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Utilitarianism.After Bentham had established that pleasure and pain were the important factors in determining whether an action was right or wrong, he developed the utility principle.

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Introduction

Utilitarianism A) Utilitarianism is all about the utility of something, it doesn't look at the action itself it looks the end result meaning it is a teleological argument. The argument tries to decide what action would lead to the most happiness for the most people. The first basic Utilitarian statement "the greatest happiness for the greatest number" was first written by Francis Hutcheson an English philosopher, although it almost always attributed to Jeremy Bentham. While utilitarianism was only officially an argument since Francis Hutcheson wrote it down other philosopher did consider the argument, like Epicurus who believed that happiness was the guiding principle ethical principle. Jeremy Bentham was a very clever person; he was born in London in 1978 and began studying Latin at the age of three. He went to Queen's college, oxford and graduated at the age of fifteen, his family had all been barristers, and now so was he. But for Bentham there was so much more he could be doing, eventually he became a philosopher and a campaigner. He was always trying to change things for the better, he tried to reform the legal and political systems, and he campaigned against imprisonment for debt and also for creating a civil service recruited by examination. In 1789 he published he major work containing ethical ideas, "an introduction to the principles of morals and legalisation". Bentham was a reductive empiricist, from this he reasoned that pleasure was good and pain was bad, he said, "Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. ...read more.

Middle

Mill thought that the pleasures of the mind were higher than physical pleasures. He believed that because bodily pleasures like eating were needed that when we were faced to chose between a bodily pleasure and a mental pleasure a person would chose the pleasure of the mind, like enjoying fine art. Unlike Bentham Mill was a rule utilitarian, a rule utilitarian try to look problems more logically when faced with a problem they will do the thing that brings the greatest good for the community and not for the greatest number. A rule utilitarian would never lie because while lying may bring the greatest good for the greatest number it would not bring the greatest good for the community. Going back to Mills idea of higher and lower pleasures he said that "it is better to be a human dissatisfied than a pig satisfied" some philosopher would argue that he is, one of them being Peter Singer he believed that pleasure should not only be for Humans and that non-humans should be taken into consideration as well. He also decided that the rule should not be pleasure, but "the best interest" of those involved, because who is to decide what pleasure is for some one else. Another person who disagrees with Bentham's and Mills idea for utilitarianism is R.M. hare he wrote a book the langue of morals about it, he believes that there is not one idea of happiness as suggested in Bentham and Mills ideas, but the right thing to do is maximise the satisfaction of the preference of each individual involved. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example somebody is murdered you had nothing to do with the murder but you are still arrested, you are then tried and sentenced to death despite the fact you had nothing to do with the murder. Later people decide that this crime is far too dangerous to commit so it stops happening, utilitarianism would say this is ok, but somebody is dead because something someone else did. This is called Expediency. The thought of this happening did horrify Mill, but Mill decided that to solve this problem there would be a hierarchy of principles, and the first principle would be justice. He is therefore a rule utilitarian. One principle (he calls it a maxim) is: "The moral rules which forbid mankind to hurt one another (in which we must never forget to included wrongful interference with each other's freedom) are more virtual to human well-being than any maxims, however important, which only point out the best mode managing some department of human affairs." Mill was always in favour of justice, but he did oppose the book on liberty, which argued for justice and individual liberty, and also it was questionable whether utilitarianism allowed justice. So it remains to be seen how in favour of justice he was. In conclusion utilitarianism is a well thought out ethical theory that has a lot of flexibility to change around its critiques. But having said that I do thing that it's impractical to use any ethical on every situation, because as the critiques have shown it's only after the ethical theories have faltered that it can be change to suit the best outcome, in my opinion a person should just trust there instincts. ...read more.

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