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

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

Extracts from this document...


1)What are the advantages of Utilitarianism? Jeremy Bentham, born 1748 was 'an extremely shy and sensitive person, who always felt insecure in the company of strangers.'1 In matters of religion, he was an atheist and he opposed to both Monarchy inherited upper class. He was interested with the social conditions of his day. His father wanted him to become a lawyer, however he changed his course halfway through his studies saying he was 'going to set out to reform it into the perfect system.' The idea he based this aim on was the 'Principle of Utility.' He defined this is the action that is right or creates the greatest amount of pleasure for the greatest amount of people. Happiness or pleasure to Bentham is maximum pleasure and minimum pain or suffering. He said that whatever increased or led to pleasure is morally good and whatever led to pain or the decrease of pleasure is morally bad. Bentham used something called the Hedonic Calculus to measure the amount of pleasure and pain in an action. This concerned intensity, duration, certainty, propinquity, fecundity, purity, and extent. However, it is impossible to calculate the pleasure or pain an action brings Bentham's use of the Hedonic Calculus was no longer used. Bentham failed to realise that his theory is only the basis of Utilitarianism and that his idea has many faults, for example, he did not make any distinctions between the types of pleasure or pain he was calculating. ...read more.


They can be broken in several exceptional circumstances, however they must be done in evaluation of the results of the action. Mill gives two examples where it is not acceptable to tell the truth and therefore the rules can be broken. If someone were to use the information given for an evil purpose or if someone was withholding information from someone that is terminally ill or dying for fear of causing him or her harm. Mill considered the feelings of mankind and preferred not to hurt any feelings or cause any more pain through telling lies or sometimes, the truth for the greater good. There is two aspects of Rule Utilitarianism however and they are Strong Rule and Weak Rule. The strong rule Utilitarianism referrers to the fact that one should never break a rule that is established on Utilitarianism principles as it is there for the greater good of man, e.g. no smoking in public areas. However, weak rule refers to the fact that some rules can be broken to protect people from something that may cause them pain later on. The philosopher Kant sticks by the Deontological argument which is 100% rule based and the rules are there for a reason and if they were all followed there would be much less pain. J.S. Mill mostly follows the Act Utilitarianism and Henry Sidgwick and Bentham mostly follow the Rule Utilitarianism aspect. ...read more.


Neitzsche believed that "some people are more important than others"10 and that their happiness or unhappiness counted for more than that of an average person. Many people shared this view and opposed to the opinion that if an action causes more happiness than unhappiness it is morally good. "Utilitarianism is based on the majority of people being happy (known as the principle of the greatest happiness of the greatest number)" 11, therefore even though there is a majority of people that are happy, there is still a small minority. Therefore Utilitarianism does not ensure 100% of people being happy, however, it is considered that it is not possible to ensure complete world happiness, as stated before, everyone has different views of happiness and some ideas of happiness would contradict others, therefore, everyone will still not be totally happy. Finally, there is the actual misunderstanding of utilitarianism itself. The original creator of the theory, Bentham, his theories can be very misleading and often hard to understand. Word Count: 1,723 1 'Philosophy' By Richard H. Popkin and Avrum Stroll. 2 'Philosophy' By Richard H. Popkin and Avrum Stroll. 3 'Philosophy' By Richard H. Popkin and Avrum Stroll. 4 John Stuart Mill. 5 'Philosophy' By Richard H. Popkin and Avrum Stroll. 6 'Ethical Theory' by Mel Thompson. 7 Jeremy Betham. 8 Karl Popper. 9 'Ethical Theory' By Mel Thompson 10 'Philosophy' By Richard H. Popkin and Avrum Stroll. 11 'A History of western philosophy' By Bertrand Russel. Eilish Scanlan 12ATh ...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. What are the Main Features of Utilitarianism as an Ethical Theory?

    Bentham's hedonic calculus can be understood in two distinct ways, either as a guide for decision as to what action to take, or as a guide for the evaluation of an action. A supporter of Bentham was John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873).

  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of utilitarianism, what are the main problems of ...

    of the outcome of the act being followed by another outcome (such as an outcome of pain followed by an outcome of pleasure); the chance or fecundity of the outcome being followed by the same outcome (such as a painful action being followed by another painful action)

  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. Outline and explain the ethical theory of utilitarianism b) ...

    It is impractical to start to measure the consequences of every action by this calculus. Furthermore how can all pleasure be so easily measured quantifiably? Can mankind compare the pleasure of eating a chocolate bar with watching one of their children grow up?

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

    Although it has the benefit of being the most flexible, one problem of this is that the means may cause terrible suffering and anguish for many people but if the result is a good one then the actions are still, supposedly, morally good.

  2. Outline the main features of Utilitarianism andExamine critically criticisms that have been offered against ...

    Next the Utilitarian would save the pregnant woman as there would be a great richness and purity in saving the life of the young child who has the probability of a long and happy life ahead, while the extent of the pleasures experienced by two people is a clear likelihood.

  1. Ethical Criticism of McDonalds

    Although this was an extreme example, the impacts on Spurlock were dramatic. 'Spurlock gained 25 pounds, raised his cholesterol by 60 points, dropped his libido and turned his liver into pate' (McMans Depression and Bipolar Weekly, 2004). He also experienced headaches and depression, and actually became addicted to the products.

  2. The Ethical Debate Concerning Cloning.

    And we all believe that man exists. Tied to this question is the determination of when a new person comes into being and when a person is dead and gone. The ethical importance of the Supreme Court's abortion decision is its judgment that an embryo or fetus is not a person.

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