This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Utilitarianism: Founding Fathers, Strengths And Weaknesses Of Act Utilitarianism And Rule Utilitarianism, Other Forms Of Utilitarianism, And Recent Philosophers

1528 words - 6 pages

"Create all the happiness you are able to create; remove all the misery you are able to remove." - Jeremy BenthamJeremy Bentham created the utilitarianism school of thought, which is an incredibly useful ethical position. It can be most effectively defined by Wikipedia, "Utilitarianism is the idea that the moral worth of an action is solely determined by its contribution to overall utility." Utilitarianism has many benefits, but those benefits are harmonized with some major flaws. I will discuss the founding fathers of utilitarianism, the strengths and weaknesses of act-utilitarianism and rule-utilitarianism, other forms of utilitarianism, and recent philosophers of this school of thought.This idea of the greatest good for the greatest number was developed by Jeremy Bentham. Although the ides of utilitarianism is often traced back to and credited to Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill carried on his work and became well know for his development of the Utilitarianism theory. In Utilitarianism, Mill's famous short work, he argued that cultural, intellectual, and spiritual pleasures hold a higher value than physical pleasures. He believed that the cultural, intellectual, and spiritual values held more value in the eyes of someone who had experienced both the physical pleasures as well as the cultural, intellectual, and spiritual pleasures. In other words, the quality of pleasure was better than the quantity of pleasure. 'It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied' As stated by Utilitarianism says that if actions promote the greatest happiness of the greatest number, then actions are right. This is the basic principle of ethics, and the foundation of morality.Act utilitarianism states that, when faced with a choice, we must first consider the likely consequences of potential actions, and from that, choose to do what we believe will generate the most happiness. Act utilitarianism focuses more on the individual act in accordance with the situation. The text for this class states that an act-utilitarian's ethical problem may be framed in this way: "What effect w ill my doing this act in this situation have on the general balance of good over evil?" For example, can rules like, "don't lie" be used as more a guideline rather than a rule for a persons actions? There are several situations where lying can be absolutely acceptable, like when telling the truth will save an individual's life. Someone who lies to a killer about where their potential victim is hiding is lying for the greater good.The most important, and obvious, pro of act-utilitarianism is that it takes into consideration the specific situation. For Example, a mother steals food in order to feed her children because she has no other way to provide for them. Under normal circumstances stealing is wrong, but in this case it would also be wrong to let her children die of starvation. Act-utilitarianism...

Find Another Essay On Utilitarianism: founding fathers, strengths and weaknesses of act-utilitarianism and rule-utilitarianism, other forms of utilitarianism, and recent philosophers

Utilitarianism. Essay

1513 words - 6 pages . He backs this theory by pointing out that each thing a person may desire, it is because they believe it will lead to happiness (Scarre, 2002). Mill gave a detailed description on the sentimentality of justice, stating that the main purpose of justice and civil liberties is that they necessitate happiness (Yim, 2008).Utilitarianism is a type of consequentialism, meaning whether an act is either morally right or wrong depends solely on its

Utilitarianism Essay

760 words - 3 pages , 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


1671 words - 7 pages utilitarianism is that act is a quantitative judgement whereas rule is a qualitative judgement. Utilitarianism may be regarded as a strong ethical theory as there are many strengths to it. It is a practical theory because it is easy to use by everyone so a knowledge of the subject matter is not needed. It is easy and simple to understand so that everybody can use it. The theory means that individuals cannot misuse


1093 words - 4 pages Utility must be directly applied for each individual situation. Act Utilitarianism has the benefit of flexibility, being able to take that into account individual situations at a given moment although the actions that it justifies can change. This form of Utilitarianism is associated with Jeremy Bentham. Rule Utilitarianism focuses on general rules that everyone should follow to bring about the greatest good for that


1465 words - 6 pages poverty in Britain positively. Theories that are interested in the ends are known as teleological. Telos is Greek for the end. Therefore teleological means that the ends justify the means, utilitarianism follows this rule. Utilitarianism is the greatest goodness for the greatest number of people. The rightness of actions depends on their utility, and the utility is measured by the consequences, simply meaning the greatest

Utilitarianism - 1442 words

1442 words - 6 pages Utilitarianism Utilitarianism is the greatest good of the greatest number. It takes the view that an action is right if it is likely to produce the best consequences compared to all the other possible actions. The best consequences are those which involve the maximization of what is good and the minimization of what is bad. The worst consequences are which involve the maximization

Critisism for Rule and Act Utilitarianism

1379 words - 6 pages consider every consequence before taking any action. There are two classical forms of utilitarianism; rule utilitarianism and act utilitarianism. “Rule utilitarianism is the idea that an act is right if and only if it is required by a rule that is itself a member of a set of rules whose acceptance would lead to greater utility for society than any available alternative” (Pojman, 127). Take for instance, stopping at a red light. According to rule

Utilitarianism - 1577 words

1577 words - 6 pages moral is that there is no way to know for sure. The fact that there is no way to positively tell, the person committing the act does. For believers of God and Jesus Christ, it is a sin to have impure thoughts.According to Mill, the impure thoughts don't become a sin until someone else knows about them. Whether the act is told to someone or it is kept a secret, it is still a sin. No matter how many other people think you are morally right, if you


992 words - 4 pages by whom they are enjoyed.      Utilitarianism has been extensively discussed by philosophers, and many objections have been raised against it. Two objections are especially relevant here. First, utilitarianism is an extremely, even excessively demanding moral view for most humans. If we have a duty always to bring about the best outcome, than any time we can increase the well-being of others (which is just about at any

Utilitarianism - 1242 words

1242 words - 5 pages community supercedes the happiness, and sometimes even the personal rights, of one or more individuals. According to utilitarianism, if a certain action will make more people happy than the number of people that will be harmed by the action, one should go through with the act. How is this justifiable? Knowingly causing harm to people for the good of others should not be commended or encouraged! This brings me to my next point. In utilitarianism, the

Utilitarianism - 953 words

953 words - 4 pages fact that it forces one to violate his/her convictions or "lower-order projects" which in turn cannot account for integrity or "coherently describe the relations between man's projects and his actions (Singer: 340)." Utilitarianism contains many important characteristics, but Bernard Williams claims that integrity cannot be entered into the utilitarian debate. His reasoning is that "each of us is specially responsible for what he does

Similar Essays

What's The Difference Between Act (Au) And Rule Utilitarianism (Ru)? What Are The Strengths And Weaknesses Of Each?

554 words - 3 pages What's the difference between act (AU) and ruleutilitarianism (RU)? What are the strengths andweaknesses of each?In the past Utilitarianism was judged on each individual action, after many years pastedthen Utilitarianism was judge on the consequences of the truth and a lie. Yourconsequences are judged on thoughts such as a promise you made or the truth you wastold. "The new version of the theory Rule Utilitarianism, which is distinguishing it

Describe The Main Strengths And Weaknesses Of Utilitarianism

1040 words - 5 pages Utilitarianism was Originally formulated by Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century, and fully developed by John Stewart Mill in the 19th. It Asserts that we should always act so as to produce the greatest ratio of good to evil for everyone concerned with our decision and As with all moral theories, has many strengths and weaknesses.The prominant criticism of Utilitarianism is that it is extremely hard to predict the results of an action. The

Kantianism And Act Utilitarianism Essay

1799 words - 7 pages Both Kantianism and Act Utilitarianism attempt to define our creation of morality and the importance of individual actions. One important aspect of both ideals in philosophy is that of equality. In terms of ethics, in practice and in study, philosophers seek to understand what governs a persons decisions and what motivates them to make those decisions. Ultimately, any action has a positive or negative reaction. This is a simple scientific fact

Utilitarianism Essay 1459 Words

1459 words - 6 pages provides at least six examples to demonstrate the viewpoint; however in regards to restricted utilitarianism, Smart only uses two examples (rule "R", and Mill's nautical almanac).Smart raises a valid criticism when he says that restricted utilitarianism collapses into extreme utilitarianism:"If 'act optimically' is itself one of our rules then there will always be a conflict of rules whenever to keep a rule is not itself optimific. If this is so