ethics midterm essay - Utilitarianism 1 Ethics Midterm...

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Utilitarianism 1 Ethics Midterm Essay Utilitarianism Jesse Vrooman Black Hills State University Professor Ryan Clark October 23, 2008
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Utilitarianism 2 Utilitarianism has experienced much debate since it was first theorized. It is the doctrine that all actions are to be judged in terms of their utility in promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number. In this essay, I will offer explanations of the various forms to utilitarianism, compare and contrast act and rule utilitarianism, provide objections, and form an opinion on which form of utilitarianism I agree with most. To fully recognize utilitarianism, one must first realize the two different aspects of utilitarianism. The first main feature of utilitarianism is the consequentialist principle that forms the teleological aspect which is based on the outcome or end result. The second feature is the utility principle or hedonistic aspect. This hedonistic principle states that the only thing that is good in itself is some specific type of state such as pleasure, happiness, or fulfillment. Also, it is important to note rule and act utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism considers the consequences, where as, rule utilitarianism begins by looking at potential rules. To further understand utilitarianism, two well-known philosophers need consideration. John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham are highly accredited supporters of utilitarianism. Bentham views pleasure as the sole good and pain as the only evil in hedonistic belief, where as, Mill is in favor of happiness. The first philosophers to be discussed are supporters of act utilitarianism and the later will be rule utilitarians. Jeremy Bentham was a British utilitarian who is the first one to systematize classical utilitarianism. He argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic value, and pain is the only intrinsic evil. “By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: or, what is the same thing in other words, to promote or to oppose that happiness.” (Pojman, 2003, p. 113) This is the base principle that
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Utilitarianism 3 Bentham laid out for utilitarians to follow. However, Bentham was often critiqued for his ideas on pleasure to be too simplistic which leads to John Stuart Mill. John Stuart Mill is a defender of utilitarianism as a moral theory supporting "actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness." (Pojman, 2003, p. 141) Happiness is the presence of pleasure and the absence of pain. Mill argues that pleasure exists in different qualities and quantities. He also continues to say that pleasure rooted in a person’s higher faculties is weighted more than base or lower pleasures. The higher faculties are what separate human beings from animals that might not be distinguished from Bentham. The “higher”
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ethics midterm essay - Utilitarianism 1 Ethics Midterm...

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