“Utilitarianism and Kant’s Ethics”, Shaw Utilitarianism is the moral doctrine that we should always act to produce the greatest possible balance of good over bad for everyone affected by our actions. o Good = happiness or pleasure. Greatest happiness = determines whether action is right or wrong. Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill were the first to develop the theory explicitly and in detail. Both had strong interest in legal and social reform. o Used utilitarian standard to evaluate and criticize the social & political institutions of their day = the prison system and the disenfranchisement of women. = Social Improvement. Bentham argument = utilitarian principle that actions are right if they promote the greatest human welfare, wrong if they do not. o Pleasures and pain are types of sensations. o Hedonic Calculus o Rejected any distinctions based on tupe of pleasure as they might indicate differences in quantity. = Nothing better about refind and intellectual pleasures than about crude or prosaic ones. Only issue is which have greater amount of enjoyment. Mill thought Bentham’s concept of pleasure was too simple. o The utility principle must take into considereation the relative quality of different pleasures and pains, niot just intensity and duration. Both men considered pleasure the ultimate value.
o They are Hedonists; Pleasure = good or worthwhile. Ex: education, Knowledge, friendship, aesthetic satisfaction. Valuable even if do not lead to happiness. They care about happiness bc they identify it with well-being; good for people. o Other utilitarians think their theory is requiring us not to maximize happiness but rather to maximize the satisfaction of peoples desires or preferences. Utilitarianism in its most basic version = act utilitarianism: we must ask ourselves what the consequences of a particular act in a particular situation will be for all those affected. o If consequences bring more good than any alternative, then this action is the right one and the one we should do. Six Points of Utilitarianism o 1. When deciding which action has greatest happiness, we must consider unhappiness or pain as well. Action produces eight units of happiness and four units of unhappiness; Net worth is four units of happiness. Opposed actions produces ten units of happiness and seven units of unhappiness, No third option, we should choose the one that brings fewer units of unhappiness. o 2. Actions affect people to different degrees. Playing radio loudly might enhance two peoples pleasure a little, cause discomfort to two others, and leave a fifth person indifferent. Theory is that we add up the various pleasures and pains, large or small, and go with the action that brings greatest amount of happiness.
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