Utilitarian view essay

It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do… By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever according to the tendency it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: I say of every action whatsoever, and therefore not only of every action of a private individual, but of every measure of government. In Chapter IV, Bentham introduces a method of calculating the value of pleasures and pains, which has come to be known as the hedonic calculus.

Utilitarian view essay

Collections Utilitarian view essay Essays 1. Overall View Utilitarianism is a philosophical view or theory about how we should evaluate a wide range of things that involve choices that people face.

Among the things that can be evaluated are actions, laws, policies, character traits, and moral codes. Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism because it rests on the idea that it is the consequences or results of actions, laws, policies, etc.

Utilitarian view essay

In general, whatever is being evaluated, we ought to choose the one that will produce the best overall results. Utilitarianism appears to be a simple theory because it consists of only one evaluative principle: Do what produces the best consequences.

In fact, however, the theory is complex because we cannot understand that single principle unless we know Utilitarian view essay least three things: Jeremy Bentham answered this question by adopting the view called hedonism.

According to hedonism, the only thing that is good in itself is pleasure or happiness. Likewise, on the negative side, a lack of food, friends, or freedom is instrumentally bad because it produces pain, suffering, and unhappiness; but pain, suffering and unhappiness are intrinsically bad, i.

Many thinkers have rejected hedonism because pleasure and pain are sensations that we feel, claiming that many important goods are not types of feelings. Being healthy or honest or having knowledge, for example, are thought by some people to be intrinsic goods that are not types of feelings.

Other thinkers see desires or preferences as the basis of value; whatever a person desires is valuable to that person. If desires conflict, then the things most strongly preferred are identified as good.

This debate will not be further discussed in this article. Utilitarian reasoning can be used for many different purposes. It can be used both for moral reasoning and for any type of rational decision-making.

In addition to applying in different contexts, it can also be used for deliberations about the interests of different persons and groups. When individuals are deciding what to do for themselves alone, they consider only their own utility.

For example, if you are choosing ice cream for yourself, the utilitarian view is that you should choose the flavor that will give you the most pleasure.

If you enjoy chocolate but hate vanilla, you should choose chocolate for the pleasure it will bring and avoid vanilla because it will bring displeasure. In addition, if you enjoy both chocolate and strawberry, you should predict which flavor will bring you more pleasure and choose whichever one will do that.

Because Bentham and other utilitarians were interested in political groups and public policies, they often focused on discovering which actions and policies would maximize the well-being of the relevant group.

An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.

Their method for determining the well-being of a group involved adding up the benefits and losses that members of the group would experience as a result of adopting one action or policy.

The well-being of the group is simply the sum total of the interests of the all of its members. To illustrate this method, suppose that you are buying ice cream for a party that ten people will attend.

Your only flavor options are chocolate and vanilla, and some of the people attending like chocolate while others like vanilla. As a utilitarian, you should choose the flavor that will result in the most pleasure for the group as a whole.

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.

Similarly, if a government is choosing a policy, it should give equal consideration to the well-being of all members of the society. Bentham is often cited as the source of a famous utilitarian axiom: Actual Consequences or Foreseeable Consequences? Utilitarians disagree about whether judgments of right and wrong should be based on the actual consequences of actions or their foreseeable consequences.

This issue arises when the actual effects of actions differ from what we expected.

Utilitarianism, Act and Rule | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Smart 49 explains this difference by imagining the action of a person who, in ,saves someone from drowning. Had Hitler drowned, millions of other people might have been saved from suffering and death between and One reason for adopting foreseeable consequence utilitarianism is that it seems unfair to say that the rescuer acted wrongly because the rescuer could not foresee the future bad effects of saving the drowning person.

In response, actual consequence utilitarians reply that there is a difference between evaluating an action and evaluating the person who did the action. They stress the difference between evaluating actions and evaluating the people who perform them.

Foreseeable consequence utilitarians accept the distinction between evaluating actions and evaluating the people who carry them out, but they see no reason to make the moral rightness or wrongness of actions depend on facts that might be unknowable. For them, what is right or wrong for a person to do depends on what is knowable by a person at a time.

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For this reason, they claim that the person who rescued Hitler did the right thing, even though the actual consequences were unfortunate. Another way to describe the actual vs.'Famine, Affluence, and Morality', by Peter Singer.

As I write this, in November , people are dying in East Bengal from lack of food, shelter, and medical care. Utilitarianism is one of the most powerful and persuasive approaches to normative ethics in the history of philosophy.

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Though not fully articulated until the 19 th century, proto-utilitarian positions can be discerned throughout the history of ethical theory.. Though there are many varieties of the view discussed, utilitarianism is generally held to be the view .

Dec 05,  · In this way, the utilitarian view of achieving happiness departed widely from Aristotle's.

Utilitarian view essay

For him, happiness was a matter of personal fulfillment through the cultivation of virtues -- internal personal characteristics, not the act itself or its consequences, were the determiners of ethical behavior.

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There was a pretty massive shift in the s and s when northern Democrats starting supporting the civil rights movement (among other things).

Put ‘er on the interwebs. No matter how shitty you think it is now you probably produced a comic of better quality than the majority of webcomics put online.

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