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Utilitarianism essay.

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Mark Smith Utilitarianism essay Jeremy Bentham's theory of utilitarianism states that when you make a decision, you should make this decision on how many people will receive pleasure or happiness from this decision. Bentham said that good was happiness. He believed that motives are unimportant and that only consequences count. He argued that motives can not be measured but consequences can. Utilitarianism is not based on religion but on consequences of an action, or thought and reason. Therefore a person can ignore rules and tradition when making a decision. Bentham states, "Morality is not a matter of pleasing God, nor is it a matter of faithfulness to abstract rules. Morality is nothing more then an attempt to bring about as much happiness as possible to the world." Utilitarianism is based on teleology which identifies a theory which is not based on rules. Utilitarianism in it's simplest form can be summed up by the phrase, "the greatest happiness for the greatest number." E.g. most people like eating crisps and a minority likes eating oranges based Benthams theory everybody would have to eat crisps as the majority prefer crisps. ...read more.


The gang are carrying out this act because they are receiving pleasure from it. The people who are carrying out the rape are in the majority and the person who is being raped is in the minority. Therefore based on the principle of 'the greatest pleasure for the greatest number' justifies the gang rape because the majority of people are receiving pleasure and there is only a minority who are receiving pain. Mill developed utilitarian theory to overcome this problem. Mill rejected Bentham's idea that all pleasures are equal. He said that some pleasures are better then others and that it is the quality of the pleasure that counts and not the quantity. For instance, poetry is better then playing marbles. Mill created a hierarchy of pleasures and pleasures such as gang rape are of so low moral value that they do not justify the pain of their victims. Mill states, "It is better to be a human being dissatisfied then a pig satisfied." In Bentham's version there can be no moral rules other then those ordained by the principle of utility, Bentham's version is act utilitarianism. ...read more.


This is morally wrong. Also this person would be come numb to the pleasure and how can pleasure exist without pain? In conclusion, after Mill has developed utilitarianism it appears that rule utilitarianism overcomes some of the problems encountered in act utilitarianism. However there are weaknesses in rule utilitarianism. E.g. suppose that a maniac is chasing someone who then hides in a shop, the maniac then walks into the shop and asks the shop keeper where the person is. Our gut feeling would be to lie. A rule utilitarian would state that the shop keeper has to be honest, because I'm not allowed to break a rule even though for instance, the result is not the greatest good. Therefore rule utilitarianism could permit certain practices such as slavery that appear to be morally unacceptable. There is no guarantee that minority interests will be protected. As long as the slaves are in a smaller proportion of the people, the greatest good might be to keep them enslaved, because of the benefits that this would give to the majority. Utilitarianism can only stand up as a good theory of ethics so long as the preferences of the individuals involved are taken into account when assessing a situation of moral dilemma. ...read more.

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