Essay on Utilitarianism And Singer 's Work Famine

1033 Words Oct 20th, 2015 null Page
In efforts to find summum bonum or the ultimate good, philosophers during the 20th century began to investigate ethical issues, and tried to create their own versions of an ideal moral code. During this time, John Stuart Mill and Peter Singer base their ethical beliefs in the philosophy of utilitarianism. Both Mill’s essay Utilitarianism and Singer’s work Famine, Affluence and Morality explore the pursuit of happiness and its relation to moral philosophy.
The doctrine of utilitarianism emphasizes the consequences of one’s actions as they add to the sum total of happiness. In Mill’s essay, he claims that the essence of Utilitarianism is summarized by the Greatest Happiness Principle. He goes on to explain the principle and writes, “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (Mill 239). When Mill refers to happiness, he is addressing happiness of the whole, and not of an individual. In Mill’s ideal utilitarian world, every person’s happiness has equal importance. He emphasizes the importance of utilitarian calculus to preserve this universal equality. To use utilitarian calculus, one needs to consider all possible outcomes of an action. The goal is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. Any potential action that would not increase the sum total of happiness of the whole should not be carried out. When addressing possible pursuits of action, he gives the example of “higher and lower pleasures”.…

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