Utilitarianism is a consequentialist ethical theory. An action is right or wrong based on its consequences. John Stuart Mill was an important philosopher in developing the idea of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism holds that any action that results in a greater amount of happiness in the world is a right action and any action that results in pain or less happiness is wrong. Utilitarianism can be divided into different versions.
Act utilitarianism is one of the versions of utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism’s goal is to maximize the overall happiness of the universe. Act utilitarianism uses the Greatest Happiness Principle which says in every situation, choose the option that you believe to be most likely to produce the greatest possible happiness or least possible unhappiness for the all people who will be affected. An act utilitarian would determine if robbing a bank is a right action or not by determining how much happiness the robbery would create. To do this he would have to use the hedonistic calculus, which is a way of adding up all the happiness that everyone affected by an action would receive. If the results of this calculation show that the bank managers, the hundreds of investors, and the police would all be unhappy with this action and only the robber and maybe his family would be happy, then robbing the bank is a wrong action. If the bank managers did not care about the customer’s money, the FDIC insured all the stolen money, the police were not unhappy because of the robbery, and the robber was extremely happy because he could move to the Caribbean and never work again, then robbing the bank would be a right action.
There are many good points to act utilitarianism. It is very appealing because most people want to increase their happiness and reduce their pain. Act utilitarianism says that people could do that and they would not only make everyone happier but they would also be doing what is morally right. Act utilitarians will not have conflicts over any action being right or wrong because the hedonistic calculus is an objective test that proves the amount of please or...