Philosophy essays on utilitarianism

Just as the laws of physics govern golf ball flight, but golfers need not calculate physical forces while planning shots; so overall utility can determine which decisions are morally right, even if agents need not calculate utilities while making decisions.

The desire, therefore, of that power which is necessary to render the persons and properties of human beings subservient to our pleasures, is the grand governing law of human nature. For some, this may be the biggest worry about censorship.


Even if every possible objection is refuted, we might have no reason to reject consequentialism but still no reason to accept it.

Moore's strategy was to show that it is intuitively implausible that pleasure is the sole measure of what is good. Other consequentialists, Philosophy essays on utilitarianism, incorporate a more robust commitment to equality.

Sidgwick was also concerned with clarifying fundamental features of the theory, and in this respect his account has been enormously influential to later writers, not only to utilitarians and consequentialists, generally, but to intuitionists as well. Some philosophers have argued that any moral theory, or at least any plausible moral theory, could be represented as Philosophy essays on utilitarianism version of consequentialism SosaPortmoreDreier and ; but see Brown But developing the theory itself was also influenced by strong views about what was wrong in their society.

One would think that the aim is to make claims that parallel 4 and 5.

The Greater Good; an Essay on Utilitarianism

John Stuart Mill Mill was brought up as a Benthamite with the explicit intention that he would carry on the cause of utilitarianism.

He argues that each person can only lose one person's happiness or pleasures. This is what defenders of rule utilitarianism claim. But, for the most part, the consideration of what would happen if everyone did the same, is the only means we have of discovering the tendency of the act in the particular case.

However, in his writings we also see an emphasis on action choice and the importance of moral deliberation to action choice. He also rejects ideal utilitarianism because "it is certainly not true as an empirical observation that people's only purpose in Philosophy essays on utilitarianism is to have 'mental states of intrinsic worth'.

Another way to incorporate relations among values is to consider distribution. But then it is possible for there to be wrongdoing a suboptimal act that is blameless or even praiseworthy. Each option violates someone's right not to be killed and is unfair to someone.

I do not mean to assert that the promotion of happiness should be itself the end of all actions, or even all rules of action. Some school level textbooks and at least one UK examination board [48] make a further distinction between strong and weak rule utilitarianism.

Critics assume that the principle of utility is supposed to be used as a decision procedure or guide, that is, as a method that agents consciously apply to acts in advance to help them make decisions.

As documented in his AutobiographyMill was groomed from birth by his father to become the ultimate Victorian intellectual and utilitarian reformer. In their view, whatever defects act utilitarianism may have, rule utilitarianism will have the same defects.

In many other cases, it will still be hard to tell whether an act will maximize utility, but that shows only that there are severe limits to our knowledge of what is morally right. The "archangel" is the hypothetical person who has perfect knowledge of the situation and no personal biases or weaknesses and always uses critical moral thinking to decide the right thing to do; the "prole" is the hypothetical person who is completely incapable of critical thinking and uses nothing but intuitive moral thinking and, of necessity, has to follow the general moral rules they have been taught or learned through imitation.

They see no reason to obey a rule when more well-being can be achieved by violating it.


Then there is a question about how demanding or revisionary utilitarianism actually is. An act can increase happiness for most the greatest number of people but still fail to maximize the net good in the world if the smaller number of people whose happiness is not increased lose much more than the greater number gains.

The Rational Foundations of Ethics, London: This array of alternatives raises the question of which moral theories count as consequentialist as opposed to deontologicaland why. That would give us the total amount of net pleasure or pain associated with each option.

In addition, although the rules that make up a moral code should be flexible enough to account for the complexities of life, they cannot be so complex that they are too difficult for people to learn and understand.

Hence, most consequentialists do not mind giving up consequentialism as a direct decision procedure as long as consequences remain the criterion of rightness but see Chappell Mill is essentially separating the two concepts.

The idea here is that all people seek happiness, and that it is the ultimate goal of all human beings to be happy.

It might be morally better to give the money to charity, but such contributions seem supererogatory, that is, above and beyond the call of duty. Several philosophers assert that a moral theory should not be classified as consequentialist unless it is agent-neutral McNaughton and RawlingHoward-SnyderPettit Consequentialist moral theories that focus on actual or objectively probable consequences are often described as objective consequentialism Railton There was a tendency — remarked on by J.

Utility ignores justice[ edit ] As Rosen [20] has pointed out, claiming that act utilitarians are not concerned about having rules is to set up a "straw man".

This reduces the antipathy to the act in question. Reprinted in Sen and Williams Utilitarianism and Other Essays [John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham, Alan Ryan] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

One of the most important nineteenth-century schools of thought, Utilitarianism propounds the view that the value or rightness of an action rests in how well it promotes the welfare of those affected by it.

Act and Rule Utilitarianism.

John Stuart Mill (1806—1873)

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

Here is a good example a what an “A” paper should look like. The paper’s strengths are its focus, clarity, and organization. This paper could have been a bit more ambitious as it doesn’t do much more than explain the difference between act and rule utilitarianism and Smart’s argument against rule utilitarianism.

John Stuart Mill (–) was the most famous and influential British philosopher of the nineteenth century. He was one of the last systematic philosophers, making significant contributions in logic, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and social theory. John Stuart Mill’s most famous essays written in The essay advocates a more complex version of utilitarianism that takes into account the many arguments, misconceptions, and criticisms many people have about the view of morality many have.

This section contains texts by the most important writers who have defined the philosophy of modern Western society. Texts here discuss ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and political philosophy.

Philosophy essays on utilitarianism
Rated 3/5 based on 41 review