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Anh Hoang Pham ID: 010082917 UtilitarianismJeremy Bentham, the founder of utilitarianism, described utility as “that property in any object, whereby it tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness...[or] to prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness to the party whose interest is considered.” Many philosophers added the elements of utilitarianism in their ethical views, but the father of the term “Utilitarian” is Jeremy Betham (1748-1832) – an English philosopher. He also formed a “systematic expositor” of Utilitarianism. The BasisThe most basic and well-known form of Utilitarianism is Act Utilitarianism. The idea is that an action is right when and only when it brings “about at least as much net happiness as any other action the agent could have performed; otherwise the action is wrong.” If there are two actions that might produce the same amount of happiness, both actions are right. The idea is to instructs followers to perform the action that brings out the greatest amount of happiness, which is the total amount of happiness minus any unhappiness that action causes. Utilitarianism focuseson overall outcomes, not just the positive results alone. If an action does not draw out the most amount of happiness, it is “wrong.” When giving a situation to decide, Utilitarianism encourages us to perform based on the future consequences of the actions, including long-term effects. Utilitarianism is a consequentialist approach of morality, which criticize the rightness of one act based on the results of outcomes. It is not how one acts, but what ends up in the end. It is aggregative, maximizing and consequentialist. There are two main points on Utilitarianism.
Firstly, actions can result in both good and bad consequences. It is not about one single effect that has more happiness than other influences; it sums up the net happiness of all possible outcomes. Measuring happiness and unhappiness with a mathematical method is impossible. Secondly, actions affect people to different degrees. Some people are slightly affected while others can be heavily influenced. Happiness is defined as the feeling of pleasure and no present of pain. Pleasure and pain were types of sensations according to Bentham. There are six criteria for evaluating pleasure and pain based on quantitative differences – intensity and duration. Bentham believed this method of measuring helps to determine the morality of one’s actions on any occasion. John Stuart Mill, on the other hand, had a different concept of happiness. His view of human beings having different kinds of pleasure in different levels, for example, the intellectual pleasure has a higher value thanphysical pleasure. Mill took the relative quality of pain and pleasure into account rather than just the intensity and duration. However, despite in whose view of happiness, happiness was always “intrinsically good and worthwhile.”Utilitarianism is also universalistic because it takes everyone’s happiness into account.