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Utilitarianism revision notes.

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Introduction

´╗┐Utilitarianism "The Greatest Happiness for the Greatest Number of People" Utilitarianism is a teleological theory of ethics, and so therefore is a consequentialist theory. Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832) began the idea of Utilitarianism, a way of working out how bad or good the consequence of an action would be. He wanted to develop an ethical theory which established whether an act was good or bad depending on its benefit for the majority. The Principle Of Utility the usefulness of the results of actions - "the greatest good for the greatest number" good being pleasure or happiness. An act is right or wrong depending on how good or bad the result is. Since this theory is based on the greatest number it is quantitive. ...read more.

Middle

6 - the purity of the pleasure (how secure) 7 - the extent of the pleasure (how universal) Bentham's Utilitarianism is described as Act Utilitarianism Act Utilitarianism - You need to look at the consequences on an action and bring about the greatest happiness by applying the principle of utility directly. Act Utilitarianism is very flexible and allows moral rules to changes depending on the situation. There is only one rule to follow and that is we should seek the greatest happiness for the greatest number in ALL situations. It does have some weaknesses and they are that it is often to predict the consequences. It also means there is the potential to justify any act e.g. Murdering someone. It is also difficult to define pleasure, is it mental or physical and what does it consist of? ...read more.

Conclusion

A good example is the Christians and the Romans. The Romans used to get pleasure from watching Christians being eaten by lions. In this situation the greatest happiness (of the Romans) is from the Christians being eaten by lions which is surely wrong? Mill believes in intellectual pleasures such as poetry and music instead of immediate pleasures like eating, drinking or sex. He thinks happiness is not just adding up the units of pleasure but rather the fulfillment of higher ideals. Mill also thinks that it should be universal "Each person's happiness is a good to that person, and the general happiness, therefore, is a good to the aggregate of all persons" Each person ought to aim for his happiness and so therefore everyone ought to aim at the happiness of everyone. ...read more.

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