Utilitarianism- Key Points Teleological theories look at the consequences- the results of an action- to decide whether it is right or wrong. Consequentialist theory- someone who decides whether an action is good or bad by its consequences. Jeremy Bentham He was concerned with social and legal reform & he wanted to develop an ethical theory which established whether something was good or bad according to its benefit for the majority of people. He called this the
principle of utility. Utility= the usefulness of the results of actions. Bentham The happiness formula Bentham equated happiness with pleasure and the absence of pain. This was an empirical observation - people desire pleasure and seek to avoid pain. His scientific mind led him to believe that the study of ethics could be undertaken in a practical way, carefully measuring the possible consequences or outcomes of an
action before deciding which choice to take. Benthams theories led to extensive social reform affecting Parliament, criminal law, the jury system, prisons, savings banks, cheap postage etc, etc. What was revolutionary about Benthams theory was that it resulted in all people being considered when making laws. His hedonic calculus was especially helpful in determining how to measure different amounts of pleasure. Nature has placed mankind under under the governance of two masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do as well as what we shall do Jeremy Bentham This is what Bentham named the principle of utility. An action is only good if it produces the most amount
of pleasure for the greatest number Principle of Utility Hot Fuzz Often expressed as, the greatest good of the greatest number. Good = happiness or pleasure. So, an act is right or wrong according to the good or bad results that results from the act and the good act is the most pleasurable. Quantitative= focuses on the greatest number. Hedonism This is the philosophical position which states that pleasure or happiness is the only good that we should strive to aim for in our lives. Any option that produces, or causes harm, should be avoided.
Benthams Approach The theory is based on ancient hedonism, which pursued physical pleasure and avoided physical pain. Moral acts= maximise pleasure/ minimise pain Utilitarian calculus. So, an act = moral, if it brings the greatest amount of pleasure and least pain. Examples? Pain vs. Pleasure Bentham, The principle of utility aims to promote happiness which is the supreme ethical value. Nature has placed us under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. An act is right if it delivers more pleasure than pain and wrong
if it brings about more pain than pleasure. Simple equation Happiness = pleasure minus pain. Pleasure vs. Happiness Actions are right in proportion when they tend to promote happiness, wrong when they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. When Bentham talks about happiness, he refers to pleasure and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain and the
privation of pleasure. According to Bentham's theory, the rightness of an action entirely depends on the value of its consequences. That is why the theory is also described as consequentialist. Basically, for those who have seen Futurama, the personification of of this would be the hedonism bot would only do that we what makes him happy, nothing else! Measure Hedonism Think: If you were to measure pleasure (Hedonism), how would you do it? What would you look for?
(5 minutes). Aristotle said that happiness would be no different than living well. This would lead to a good life. Bentham equated happiness with pleasure and the absence of pain. However he stated that we should treat happiness as a mathematical formula. Hedonic Calculus Helps us choose the good thing to do and work out the possible consequences of an action. P.R.R.I.C.E.D =
acronym. Purity how free from pain is it? Remoteness how near is it? Richness to what extent will it lead to other pleasures? Intensity how powerful is it? Certainty how likely it is to result in pleasure? Extent how many people does it affect? Duration how long will it last? Moral Dilemma You arrange to go and visit your elderly granny who is unconscious and dying in hospital only to discover a childhood friend is having a leaving party.
OPTION A Go to the party OPTION B Visit your granny Your younger sister is trapped in a burning house. Do you risk your life, and perhaps those of the fire service to get her or leave her to die? OPTION A Leave her OPTION B Go in to save her Imagine you work for the government, in a high position of authority. You are asked to authorise that a man is tortured as he has information which could help you save innocent lives. OPTION A Authorise the torture OPTION B Dont authorise the torture You are a scientist in charge of a laboratory which has to decide between the cheaper option of testing on animals to find cures for diseases or the more expensive option of using alternative stem cell research which doesnt harm animals at all. OPTION A Test on animals OPTION B Use alternative methods of research
This space is blank for your own moral dilemma Purity Remoteness Extent Duration Intensity Certainty To be followed by Total/ Outcome Total score:
Option Chosen A B Total score: Option Chosen A B Total score: Option Chosen A B Total score: Option Chosen A B
Total score: Option Chosen A B You must decide between two possible options for each scenario and then put each option through the calculator: Bentham says the option which scores the highest is the right thing to do! RULES: For each step of the hedonic calculus score each option as follows: -10 = The most possible pain 0 = Neutral 10 = The most possible happiness
Add these up to make a total in the end column (This might be a minus number) Questions to ask at each stage to decide the score given: P Purity: Is there likely to be pain mixed with the happiness? Will it just bring about happiness or might there also be guilt or trouble for you? The less pain mixed in the better! R Remoteness: How near is the happiness to you? Will you be able to enjoy the happiness today? Within an hour? The sooner the better! E Extent: How widespread/ universal will the happiness be? Will other people benefit from it? Will people in future benefit from it too? The more people it brings happiness to the better! D Duration: How long will the happiness last? A second? A day? A month? A lifetime? The longer the better! I Intensity: How intense will the happiness be? Will it just be a fairly mild happiness or will it be very full on? The more intense the better! C Certainty: How certain is it that happiness will be the result of the action? Can you guarantee what you do will lead to happiness? The more likely the happiness is the better!
T To be followed by: Will it produce other happiness? Will this lead to more good things happening as well? What other happiness might come of this action? The more happiness it could lead to the better! Hedonic Calculus & Animal Experimentation Bentham's Hedonic Calculus can be used to weigh up the pleasure and pain caused by two courses of action - in this case, helping someone to die, or not doing so. Bentham would consider the Intensity of the pain and its Duration. He would have to weigh that against the number of people affected (Extent), and consider whether keeping someone alive would lead to other pleasures (Richness). He would also need to add up the amount of other 'pains' the patient would face e.g. loss of dignity (Purity), and
consider the chances that there' might be treatment in the future (Certainty). The pain is immediate, while possible future benefits are Remote. In most cases, the degree of pain is so great that Bentham's theory would it support Benthams theory? Write down this statement and explain whether you agree or disagree with it. Use examples to support your view. All humans are motivated by pleasure and pain Pleasure= Good Pain= evil The right actions are those that promote the most good Nature has placed
mankind under under the governance of two masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do as well as what we shall do Bentham Using Benthams quote, how should ethical actions be guided? Act Utilitarianism A teleological theory that uses the outcome of an action to determine whether it is good or bad. Consequentialist theory, should be based on the
consequences/outcome. Each situation the calculus should be freshly applied. Its a relativistic theory. A01 The degree to which pleasure can be seen as the sole intrinsic good. Vagueness of pleasure (Bentham would argue if the Calculus was used correctly then it would not be vague) Subjectivity: What is good? Mill redevelops Benthams idea, more akin to
Aristotles Eudomonia Pleasures produce vital happiness such as mental health, quality of life. Some prefer thrills lifestyle, life is to be enjoyed Is happiness/pleasure an aim? How about salvation? Selfsacrifice? Discipline? A01: To what extent does Utilitarianism work in contemporary society? It is common sense to avoid pain , important establishing laws.
Considers the common good, Act Utilitarianism is pragmatic and concentrates on a situation. Its decided individually and is not prescriptive. Greater good? How about the minority? Does it ignore the intentions? Outcomes may not be predictable? E.g. War Fails to consider we have certain duties or obligations for example a parent. People make errors of judgement. John Stuart Mill: Higher and lower pleasures Mill said: The Greatest Happiness Principle holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.some kinds of pleasures are more desirable and more valuable than others, it would be absurd that while, in estimating all other things, quality is not also considered as well as
quantity. If the greatest good for the greatest number is purely quantitative (based on quantity), what would stop one person from being destroyed by the majority? Mill was aware that Benthams utilitarianism was being criticised for promoting desire. So Mill distinguished between higher and lower pleasures. Higher pleasures are qualitatively better and therefore more important that lower pleasures: John Stuart Mill: Higher and lower pleasures According to Mill, pleasures of the mind are higher than those of the body. To pursue purely bodily pleasures food, drink, sex - was not as high an objective as those that are intellectually demanding. For Plato, philosophical thinking is the highest activity for humans.
Universalisability Mill says that in order to follow the principle of the greatest good (happiness) for the greatest number we need the principle of universalisability. He says: Each persons happiness is a good to that person, and the general happiness, therefore, is a good to the aggregate of all persons. This means: What is right or wrong for one person in a situation is right or wrong for all. Each person desires his own happiness. Therefore each person ought to aim at his happiness. Therefore everyone ought to aim at the happiness of everyone.
This can mean that sometimes Utilitarianism demands that people put the interests of the group before their own, and Mill compares this to the Golden Rule of Jesus of Nazareth In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12) Mill also separates the question of the motive and the morality of the action. There is nothing wrong with self-interest if it produces the right action. Mill and Rules Mill also went beyond Bentham in proposing a positive place for rules within utilitarianism. He gives the example of a person who tells a lie in order to get some immediate advantage. He argues that society needs the principle of truthfulness, without which nobody would be
ever able to trust anybody to be telling the truth. Therefore, the rule that one should tell the truth is a general means of securing the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Breaking that rule, although it might appear to offer greater happiness in the immediate situation, will in the long run lead to less happiness. Can these rules ever be broken? Mill gives 2 examples of situations where he considers that it would be right not to tell the truth: Dont give information to someone who is likely to use it for an evil purpose. Do withhold bad news from someone who is dangerously ill, for fear of causing him/her harm.
This shows that Mill is still prepared to consider the direct results of individual actions as well as the rules that are thought to offer general good to society. For Mill, the ultimate justification for moral choice is the conscientious feelings of mankind even though he follows the rules and principles laid down by utilitarianism, moral choices still come down to a fundamental moral sense that people have. RULE UTILITARIANISM Mill used Rule Utilitarianism. Rule utilitarianism focuses on general RULES that everybody should follow to bring about the greatest good for that community. We should vote on the best possible result for the whole community which produces the most happiness and that should become a rule for society to live by. It creates RULES. In a situation I must obey the rule even if it doesnt lead to the greatest pleasure for me in this situation. Driving on the left you should always
drive on the left even if it doesnt always provide happiness (traffic jam) because it will produce a greater overall good. A person should never lie because it doesnt bring about the greatest good for the community (apart from the two exceptions mentioned above). Strong Rule Utilitarianism Mill relies on rules more, and is sometimes known as a Rule Utilitarian. Strong Rule Utilitarianism would say that utilitarian principles should establish rules that should then never be broken - which might become an absolutist theory! Weak Rule Utilitarianism: Rules created by the Utility Principle may be broken in extreme circumstances. For
example Do not kill can be broken if during WW2 someone was to kill Hitler, as this would fulfil the Principle of Utility. Mill is often referred to as a Weak Rule Utilitarian. Mills theory often seen deontological and teleological. A02: The extent to which Rule Utilitarianism provides a better basis for making moral decisions than Act Utilitarianism Act Utilitarianism is a morally democratic approach seeks the fairest result through application of happiness principle. Its not clear how hedonic calculus resolves the problem of assessing pleasure. How do you quantify and compare duration and intensity of pleasure? The Hedonic calculus does not rank the pleasure. Mills rule Utilitarianism addresses
the qualification by refining it with qualitative analysis. Was Mill right about higher is better than lower pleasures? Who decides? Does Utilitarianism promote immoral behaviour? Mill: greatest Religious believers believe in Gods rules and teachings, this is more reliable than secular theory as its applied by humans and its inconsistent. Happiness is
subjective happiness for greatest pleasure, Mills harm principle defends against misuse. Rule Utilitarianism, danger absolute systems, the immortality of morality but with the flexibility of strong Rule Utilitarianism those are treated the same way. Application of Benthams Act Utilitarianism and Mills Rule Utilitarianism to animal experimentation for medical research Dr Gill Claudius Galen:
Performed vivisection (operations) on animals, dissecting pigs and apes William Harvey: Performed dissections and logical argument proved body supplied single supply of blood Animal Aid: campaigns against use animals and cruel treatment of animals. Medical research is pointless such as cures cancer, experiments are unreliable, we should look at causes not cures. Bentham Humans are higher intellectual beings,
can animals reason? Langley: species have variations genetics anatomy, lack of knowledge in human illnesses Understanding Animal Research: Medical breakthrough , 95% genes same as mice, veterinary research relied on animal research, 97% research on mice , rats , fish., high standards in the lab, there are ethical
standards Term Definition Animal Use The view that supports the idea that humans are supreme species. Animals are used for food and pleasure (sports) Animal Protection (legal) Establishes laws and regulations to control animal experiments and to ensure animals are treated with dignity Animal Welfare
Supports the rights of animals to be free from abuse and to be looked after Animal Reform People who fight for a change in the laws of animal experiments, animal ownership , animal based clothing and animal sports Animal Liberation (illegal) An anonymous group that had used acts of terrorism to free animals from abuse Animal control (illegal)
The view that supports the use of animals in extreme sports such as dog fighting or fox hunting , believing that animals are here for our use or pleasure. Apply Utilitarianism to animal rights Animal experimentation debate Greatest happiness But the uncertainties the with greatest greatest happiness for humans number: happiness are not guaranteed Not number human lives. animals Promotes pleasure and avoids pain: true Mill is clear that animals do not for humans equate with humans. Animals
Bentham was a do not appreciate higher pioneer of animal pleasures (Julia Driver), Strong rights, can they Rule Utilitarianism would suffer? support Mills views. Weak Rule Benthams hedonic Utilitarianism,, intervention is calculus suggests based on the intrinsic merits of should be used both the case, There is no absolute humans and animals. response. The application of Benthams Act Utilitarianism and Mills Rule
Utilitarianism to the use of nuclear weapons as a deterrent PM can make the order Campaign Nuclear Disarmament: Nuclear bomb today kill more Hiroshima/Nagasaki, Legitimate purpose? Genocidal, cannot address threats terrorism, radioactive aftermath would have no boundaries, long term effects , could kill very large numbers The end justify the means?
Mill: Harm principle All commands are independent Minimise any aggression Gives stability Deterrence means benefits of an attack far outweigh consequences, consequentialist approach supports harm principle but so does CND argument. Calculus : Suffering? A02 The extent to which Utilitarianism promotes
justice Mill argued interests of the group should be put before their own interests Mills harm principle: prevent harm to others Reduce pain/suffering? May be necessary focus on pains/suffering. Is it more important end suffering or increase pleasure? What is the lesser evil? A02 The extent to which Utilitarianism
provides a practical basis for making moral decisions for religious believers Jesus crucifixion = principle utility, Jesus dies to give happiness in eternal life. Ultimate goal is happiness love thy neighbour. Religion is about making people happy. Thou shall not steal or commit adultery , this means divorce or getting arrested, strong Rule Utilitarianism. These are God teachings , they are divine. Act Utilitarianism
looks at the consequences, do not steal should be followed as its a divine law but its the act of utility. Utilitarianism against : A means to end argument and moral absolutes (lack compassion) The most striking difference is the Lost Sheep the individual still counts. Create a Part a and b Question Revise AO1 Oxford Utilitarianism Scale
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