Explain how moral decisions should be made according to: Act and Rule utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is a teleological ethical theory, as it is a philosophical system concerned with conse- quences rather than the motives. Also it is concerned that the happiness of the greatest number should be the result. There are two types of utilitarianism: act and rule utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism is developed be Jeremy Bentham and rule utilitarianism is developed by John Stuart Mill.
Jeremy Bentham was an English Philosopher who came up with the theory of Utilitarianism. He was a practical man concerned with the social conditions of his day and particularly with the conditions of prisons and hospitals. He wanted to find a moral basis for law that could serve to benefit the whole of society. In 1789 he wrote 'The principles of moral and Legislation' in which he put forward his ethical theory and divided his book into 3 sections: his view on what drove humans and what goodness and badness is all about, Hedonic Calculus and the principle of utility his moral rule.
Bentham had believed that human beings are driven by pleasures and pain, ‘nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure’. He believed everyone had an equal right to happiness, irrespective of their situation. He wanted morality to be fair and democratic. Furthermore, because he was practical, he believed that things should be judged right or wrong according to whether or not they benefited the people involved. Therefore an act that brings happiness to an individual is right for the society. This was judged by the principle of utility. This means the rightness or wrongness of an action is determined by its utility or usefulness. Our actions should create the greatest happiness in the greatest number of people.