Essay about Utilitarianism

1558 Words Apr 30th, 2014 7 Pages
Outline important concepts of Utilitarianism. (21)

Utilitarianism is a theory which denotes actions that are right and wrong from there consequences. There are three types of Utilitarianism, act, rule and preference.

Act Utilitarianism was initially developed by the theorist and psychological hedonist, Jeremy Bentham who believed that our main aim in life was to achieve 'happiness' and avoid 'pain'. He wanted to produce a different approach to moral decision making to suit the advancing society of the industrial age and argued that "natural rights is simple nonsense".This principle focuses on the individual action and the consequences that come with it. His moral rule was the 'Principle of Utility' which clearly stated that we should
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This relativism has allowed the soldier to go against the religious teaching 'thou shalt not kill' and therefore Bentham's theory undermines the 10 commandments and rejects religious beliefs. Likewise, relativism makes way for any conceivable action to be considered acceptable as people may get pleasure from doing bad things such as rape, therefore this pleasure would make the rapists actions correct. As Bentham regarded all pleasure as equal there is no difference between eating cake because it makes you happy and torturing a child because it makes you happy.

John Stuart Mill recognised these key criticisms and attempted to advance act utilitarianism to avoid these issues. Instead of the quantity happiness created by an action, he focused on the quality by distinguishing between higher and lower pleasures. He showed this idea of quality over quantity when saying "It is better to a be a human dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied." Lower pleasures were bodily pleasures, such as eating and sex whereas higher pleasures were often intellectually stimulating and challenging; determining between the two prevented the evil pleasures stated before, being classed as acceptable.

Next Mill developed rule utilitarianism, this focuses on rules that every one should follow in order to bring the greatest good for the community; the rules are absolute and you have to follow them even if your…

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