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

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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