• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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.

Extracts from this document...

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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Practical Questions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Practical Questions essays

  1. Examine the key features of utilitarianism and its strengths and weaknesses of utilitarianism

    of the prisoner, even though we can see that it is wrong. In Mills theory the soldiers pleasure does not justify their actions because it is of such a low value that it doesn't outweigh the extreme pain the prisoner goes through. Also, many countries run by means of democracy.

  2. Essay on Law vs. Justice

    However, even if it had been found that New England Telephone Company followed the letter of the law, it failed to live up to the higher standard of ethical treatment of its employee, Paul Cronan. He alluded to the fact that there was a great deal of prejudice against homosexuals

  1. Explain the main ethical principle of Christianity.

    The idea is for the followers to do what is good and avoid evil, to do the 'natural' thing and not the unnatural that is not mentioned in the bible. I.e., no one is to kill, therefore abortion is wrong.

  2. Identify the main problems of Utilitarianism. To what extent do these make Utilitarianism unacceptable? ...

    Many feel that Utilitarianism might be a dangerous concept because if the majority felt that something immoral was acceptable, it could be passed as a law in a utilitarian society. And before long, a utilitarian government might see the passing of laws which please the majority only and which a minority of people feel hugely betrayed by.

  1. Consider the arguments for and against paid organ donation.

    Moreover, if a paid system was introduced, it is probable that more unsuitable candidates would come forward for donation - those who are less affluent and perhaps are in bad condition from drinking, drugs or solvent abuse or just in poor health - and all the organs that are offered must be screened.

  2. What are the Main Features of Utilitarianism as an Ethical Theory?

    substitute for the failure of experience and the critic would claim that the grounds for such and ideal are arbitrary. At the heart of Mill's utilitarianism, there is a paradox. As a utilitarian, he should, to be consistent, justify all his claims about the superiority of intellectual pursuits based on experience i.e., 'a posteriori'.

  1. Explain Mills Version of Utilitarianism. Mills version of utilitarianism is morally unacceptable. Discuss.

    Mill believed that to pursue bodily pleasures like to eat and drink was not a high objective as those that are intellectually challenging. He said if we are confronted with the choice between the pleasures of the body or the pleasure of the mind, the pleasure of the mind is preferred.

  2. Explain how moral decisions should be made using the Hedonic Calculus.

    The Hedonic Calculus is a moral theory because it helps somebody to decide which action is right or wrong by calculating how much pleasure, or pain, could be received through an action but it could also be an ethical theory if the principle of utility is applied, which is an

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work