Utilitarianism is a consequentialist theory. It states that the “consequences of our actions are more important than our intentions” (Boss, 2014, p. 234). In other words, an action is right or wrong depending on the outcome of that action. It is concerned with the greatest happiness for the greatest number. According to utilitarians, the desire to achieve happiness is self-evident and universal. They believe that pleasure makes people happy. “Pain and privation of pleasure,” on the other hand, “cause unhappiness” (Boss, 2014, p. 235).
2. What is the difference between rule- and act-utilitarianism? Give an example of each. How is Mo Tzu’s notion of utilitarianism different from the Western version?
Rule-utilitarians claim that we should “follow the rule that, in general, brings about the greatest happiness for the …show more content…
Describe Jeremy Bentham’s philosophy of utilitarianism. What does his calculus entail? What ethical implications of his theory may help us make decisions about both individual and social action?
Jeremy Bentham advocated for social reform and questioned the old-fashioned moral values that favored the status quo. He believed that the principle of utility provides the test of “what a law ought to be and which laws ought to be obeyed” (Boss, 2014, p. 241).
Bentham created the utilitarian calculus as “a means of determining which action, or policy, is morally preferable” (Boss, 2014, p. 241). He developed a list of factors that should be considered to measure the amount of pleasure and pain that a specific action is likely to cause. These seven factors are intensity, duration, certainty, propinquity, fecundity, purity, and extent.
The utilitarian calculus is used in the law-making process. Laws should increase, not decrease, the overall happiness of a society. “If a proposed policy has a higher positive than negative value, then it is a good policy” (Boss, 2014, p.