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

Is a good action always that which promotes the greatest happiness for the greatest number?

Extracts from this document...


Is a good action always that which promotes the greatest happiness for the greatest number? What is it that makes an action good? What is 'good'? Good is a very abstract word in that it is not attributed a concrete meaning. If the word is looked up in the dictionary the meanings would resemble the following: morally excellent, obedient or well behaved, enjoyable, of the best quality, etc... but these are not real meanings they are just suggestions of how and when the word should be used. But what gives this word its individuality is that it has different levels, different shades of understanding. Each individual has a different interpretation of the word making it unique. ...read more.


For example cannibalism, if everyone became a cannibal the consequence would be the end of human kind therefore this would be considered bad in Kant's view. Yet another view is the utilitarianist view. Utilitarianism looks to the consequences of actions before making a moral decision, a bit like Kant's principle. They believe that a truly moral ethical act will give the greatest pleasure. The greatest happiness principle is also a utilitarianist principle: the greatest happiness for the greatest number. However some may criticise whether one man's constant torture is worth the world's happiness. According to utilitarianist views the only thing that matters is the happiness or the happiness caused. But this view could eventually lead to hedonism, which believe that all pleasure is good. ...read more.


This idea also neglects the idea of rights, should our rights be trampled on just to get good results? For example freedom of speech or faith? It also ignores backward looking reasons such as promises and obligations. Although Raphael's example may not be realistic, and may not apply to our lives, it states a weakness in these principles and should therefore be acknowledged. In conclusion to this topic, we must consider all views of what is considered a good action. The answer lies in each individual's opinion. So is a good action that which promotes the greatest happiness for the greatest number? We have seen that this principle has a weakness that should not be ignored. A good action should not cause unhappiness or pain, not even to a minority although it may promote the greater good. A good action must be one that pleases everyone without exclusion not just the majority. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Ethics 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 GCSE Ethics essays

  1. Compare and contrast Plato and Aristotle on the acquisition of ethical understanding.

    it simply adheres to the way we perceive justice at any given time. Plato would argue however, that the individuals which are most fit to rule, the philosophers, would have access to the forms and therefore self evidently, would be just.

  2. Should our moral beliefs be based on the utilitarian principle of securing the greatest ...

    Business managers, governors, as well as the other professionals also use this theory when they are making decisions, for example, whether to employ new staff, whether to ban smoking in public places, or whether to invest in a new market.

  1. Kantians believe promises should always be kept even if breaking brings about benefits because ...

    fun, your mom is not going to trust you being home on time and will punish you for not keeping your end of the bargain. Every time you promise your mom to be home a certain time she is not going to trust you since you have already disappointed her.

  2. Television and Religion - Give your response to the view that television always presents ...

    A similar event occurred in the police drama series 'A Touch of Frost', in which a Priest broke the seal and informed the police about a murderer confessing his guilt, and therefore helping to catch the person concerned.

  1. RE crousework topic 9

    If people are generous they will usually give more than the usual amount. There is a saying which the last prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, "The person who sleeps full while his neighbour sleeps hungry is not a true believer." Islam encourages in giving our more charity, in whatever situation you may be in.

  2. "Miller's plays show is that happiness can only be achieved by making moral compromises" ...

    For example, they have a maid, and an extensive piece of narrative is used at the beginning of the play to describe their house - "two storeys high and has seven rooms". The only way the Keller family could have kept such a house through the Depression and lack of

  1. Religion Speech IVF

    The 10 commandments, which appears in the Old Testament, describes the expectations of Gods own people. These expectations have become an important statement of ethical behaviour, focusing on the worship of God and respect for other people. As a result of deliberately taking an innocent life through IVF, many people

  2. "The greatest happiness for the greatest number" Using ToK thinking and terms, how far ...

    time I would have used for studying and allow me to get a 7 in Physics. If this is so, we have to compare which gives me a greater happiness: playing Play Station or getting a 7 in Physics? Certainly it is the second option which gives me a greater happiness.

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