The utilitarianism ethics theory essay

The well-being of strangers counts just as much as that of friends, family or self. In terms of his place in the history of utilitarianism we should note two distinct effects his system had. Rule Utilitarians may agree that there are some general exception rules that allow the breaking of other rules if this increases happiness e.

One is that it characteristically comes only with experience of life. Criticisms[ edit ] Because utilitarianism is not a single theory but a cluster of related theories that have been developed over two hundred years, criticisms can be made for different reasons and have different targets.


This view was combined with a view of human motivation with egoistic elements. That part of his personality that harbours these hostile antisocial feelings must be excluded from membership, and has no claim for a hearing when it comes to defining our concept of social utility.

I am focusing here on the nature of utilitarianism and am not considering its weaknesses. With social utility, he means the well-being of many people.

This supreme good is not conceived of as an independently defined state made up of, say, a list of non-moral goods that does not include virtuous activity which exercise of the virtues might be thought to promote.

Our understanding of better and worse motivations and virtuous and vicious dispositions is grounded in these primitive responses to exemplars This is true even though there is a good deal of pleasure, and no pain, in the universe of sadists.

The word utility is used to mean general well-being or happiness, and Mill's view is that utility is the consequence of a good action. Secondary Literature Crisp, Roger, Jean-Francois Lyotard,tr. Additionally, critics have suggested the significant limitations of an ethical system that attempts to reduce human behavior and action to simple rational calculations of pleasure versus pain, but at the same time they acknowledge its considerable impact on nineteenth- and twentieth-century normative ethics.

His seminal work is concerned with the principles of legislation and the hedonic calculus is introduced with the words "Pleasures then, and the avoidance of pains, are the ends that the legislator has in view.

Defenders argue that the same problem is successfully overcome in everyday life, and that rough estimates are usually sufficient. And good agency is defined by the possession and exercise of such virtues. If one should help others because that's the right thing to do — and, fortunately, it also ends up promoting one's own interests, then that's more like utilitarianism, since the promotion of self-interest is a welcome effect but not what, all by itself, justifies one's character or actions.

Both aim to resolve a number of dilemmas by arguing that the conflict is merely apparent; a discriminating understanding of the virtues or rules in question, possessed only by those with practical wisdom, will perceive that, in this particular case, the virtues do not make opposing demands or that one rule outranks another, or has a certain exception clause built into it.

Critics have argued that the ultimate aim of Negative Utilitarianism would therefore logically be to engender the quickest and least painful method of killing the entirety of humanity, as this would effectively minimize suffering, although more moderate proponents would obviously not propose that.

Mill, John Stuart, Nussbaum and Amartya Sen eds. To be fair to Bentham's critics, of course, they are free to agree with him that this is the case in many situations, just not all — and that there is still a subset of laws that reflect the fact that some actions just are intrinsically wrong regardless of consequences.

Virtues are not built on that foundation; rather, as one of the varieties of goodness of whose value we are most confident, virtues form part of the foundation. However, rule utilitarianism proposes a more central role for rules that was thought to rescue the theory from some of its more devastating criticisms, particularly problems to do with justice and promise keeping.

Utilitarians support equality by the equal consideration of interests, and they reject any arbitrary distinctions as to who is worthy of concern and who is not, and any discrimination between individuals.

Issue related to promotional deceiving 3. A very specific argument against Utilitarianism has been put forward on the grounds that Determinism is either true or false: Let a beggar, pressed by hunger, steal from a rich man's house a loaf, which perhaps saves him from starving, can it be possible to compare the good which the thief acquires for himself, with the evil which the rich man suffers.

Of course, the same sorts of dilemmas are generated by conflicts between deontological rules. The question, however, is not what we usually do, but what we ought to do, and it is difficult to see any sound moral justification for the view that distance, or community membership, makes a crucial difference to our obligations.

In what follows we sketch four distinct forms taken by contemporary virtue ethics, namely, a eudaimonist virtue ethics, b agent-based and exemplarist virtue ethics, c target-centered virtue ethics, and d Platonistic virtue ethics.

The worry Williams points to really isn't a worry specifically with utilitarianism Driver Thus, his apparent endorsement of Hobbesian psychological egoism created problems in understanding his moral theory since psychological egoism rules out acting to promote the overall well-being when that it is incompatible with one's own.

Thus, an action intended to cause harm but that inadvertently causes good results would be judged equal to the result of an action done with good intentions.

University of Notre Dame Press. And thus a Utilitarian may reasonably desire, on Utilitarian principles, that some of his conclusions should be rejected by mankind generally; or even that the vulgar should keep aloof from his system as a whole, in so far as the inevitable indefiniteness and complexity of its calculations render it likely to lead to bad results in their hands.

Utilitarianism is a moral theory generally considered to have been founded by Jeremy Bentham, a 19th century English philosopher and social reformer.

Utilitarianism began as a movement in ethics of the late eighteenth-century primarily associated with the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham. The basic principle of Utilitarianism involves a. Also see SEP, EB, and M. Y. Chew. metanarrative. Stories employed to legitimate the mechanisms of social control.

Thus, for example, when parents tell their children, "We only want to help you avoid our mistakes," they are constructing a metanarrative that justifies the imposition of rules of conduct they are unwilling to follow themselves. Utilitarianism is what philosophers call a consequentialist theory.

A consequentialist theory is an ethical theory that states that the consequences, or effect, of an action determine if an action is morally right or wrong. With utilitarianism, an action is determined to be morally right or wrong if it brings about more pleasure or pain.

Act and Rule Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is one of the best known and most influential moral theories.

The Greater Good; an Essay on Utilitarianism

Like other forms of consequentialism, its core idea is that whether actions are morally right or wrong depends on their specifically, the only effects of actions that are relevant are the good and bad results that they produce. Blog and Podcast for all enthusiastic Theory of Knowledge (TOK) students and teachers (and anybody else!) as a source of inspiration.

TOK is an epistemology and critical thinking course offered by the. Essay The Theory Of Ethics And Moral Theories Now that the concepts of ethics and moral theories have been introduced, one can begin to understand what utilitarianism is. Utilitarianism was first introduced in the nineteenth century by the British philosopher Jeremy Bentham and revised by .

The utilitarianism ethics theory essay
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Utilitarianism - By Branch / Doctrine - The Basics of Philosophy