Utilitarianism as an ethical theory

This widely reprinted article, though it does not focus on utilitarianism, uses utilitarian reasoning and has sparked decades of debate about moral demandingness and moral impartiality.

utilitarianism philosophy

One involves the justification of moral rules and the other concerns the application of moral rules. It asks more than can reasonably be expected of people. On the other hand, William Godwinan early 19th-century political philosopher, assumed the basic goodness of human nature and argued that the greatest happiness would follow from a radical alteration of society in the direction of anarchistic Communism.

Bentham believed that a hedonic calculus is theoretically possible. More genearl criticisms of this view argue that it is possible to generate "unjust rules" according to the principle of utility.

Utilitarianism bentham

In the end, utilitarians say, it is justice and rights that give way when rules that approve of violations in some cases yield the greatest amount of utility. One feels guilt for what one has done, not for what one sees another doing. And in fact, aspects of utilitarianism can look very hard to resist. Another objection, often posed against the hedonistic value theory held by Bentham, holds that the value of life is more than a balance of pleasure over pain. In moral evaluation the main concern is that of character. If seven like chocolate and three like vanilla and if all of them get the same amount of pleasure from the flavor they like, then you should choose chocolate. In this way, utilitarianism can provide an excuse for those who commit wrongs for noble reasons.

But few would consider it an acceptable course of action, let alone the most ethical one. Cambridge University Press, It maintains not only that virtue is to be desired, but also that it is to be desired disinterestedly, for itself.

Scarre, 53—54 Scarre then uses the example of telling a lie to illustrate: lying is harmful to the person to whom one lies, and so this is viewed with disfavor, in general. Start Your Free Trial Today Methodologies As a normative system providing a standard by which an individual ought to act and by which the existing practices of society, including its moral code, ought to be evaluated and improved, utilitarianism cannot be verified or confirmed in the way in which a descriptive theory can, but it is not regarded by its exponents as simply arbitrary.

Moore argued for a set of ideals extending beyond hedonism by proposing that one imaginatively compare universes in which there are equal quantities of pleasure but different amounts of knowledge and other such combinations.

utilitarian approach

Law enforcement officers also are required to make exigent decisions, without the ability to consult with senior officers or policy and procedures. Whose Well-being?

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Utilitarianism (Consequence