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Briefly distinguish between act and rule utilitarianism.

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Briefly distinguish between act and rule utilitarianism. Two people brought about act utilitarianism. First, Jeremy Bentham who is said that "an action is right if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number." Bentham thought that if you got more pleasure from an action than pain then it was alright to do it e.g. (if 10 people got pleasure out of an innocent man dying then that action would be just according to Bentham's rule). John Stewart Mill was the second man to talk about act utilitarianism, however he believed that it wasn't the amount of pleasure you get it's the quality of pleasure that mattered the most. Mill also thought that pleasures of the mind mattered more than pleasures of the body. So reading classical literature would generate more pleasure than playing sports and writing a poem would produce greater pleasure than dancing. Act utilitarianism is based on the 'Principle of Utility' which says, "an action ought to be done if it brings out the maximum possible happiness for those parties affected by the action". ...read more.


2. Outline and explain one circumstance in which a positive utilitarian could support abortion and one circumstance in which a negative utilitarian could support abortion. A positive utilitarian is someone who tries to maximise his or her pleasure. A negative utilitarian is someone who tries to minimise pain. A situation in which a negative utilitarian could support abortion is if a 16-year-old girl got pregnant through being raped. Firstly the young girl may not be ready to face the pain of childbirth. Also if the girl decided to keep the child then everytime she looked at the child then it would be a very painful reminder to her of the actual rape itself. Seeing as the girl is young she may not want to have a child. Along with that the girl is still young having an abortion would seem like a sensible option, as it would minimise pain for the girls family aswell. A lot of unnecessary pressure would be put on the relationship between the girl and the girls parents as they will have to probably have to pay for all the babies expenses. ...read more.


By having the abortion she will feel lots of pain and guilt in the immediate future however when she looks back at on it late on in her life she may well feel that the decision to have the abortion made her determined to get as much pleasure and fun out of her life as possible. You have to think about the child aswell. If the mother goes through with the birth and does unfortunately die then the child will have no mother to nurture and bring it up. It may be possible that it will be adopted but it will not have a proper mothers care and affection so it will not be able to maximise its pleasures of childhood. I feel that both the positive utilitarian and the negative utilitarian would have to look at the reasons for the abortion very carefully and also from the viewpoint of the mother and also child to decide whether the right action is to support the abortion. ...read more.

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