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Unformatted text preview: P r inciple of U t ili ty
According to Utili tarianism, the moral goodness or badness of an action is determined by its consequences -- by whether it benefits or harms the people who are affected by i t. The Utili tarians understand the idea of a benefit in terms of the production of pleasure of some sort or other, and they understand the idea of harm in terms of the production of some form of pain. The P r inciple of U tility states that an action is good to the extent that it produces beneficial (pleasurable) consequences, bad to the extent that it produces harmful (painful) consequences. You can use this principle to determine the morally r ight thing to do in any situation, as follows: First, consider all of the alternative courses of action open to you -- all the choices you could make in your situation; Second, weigh up the benefits and harms you expect to result from each alternative, considering not just yourself but all those who are likely to be affected by what you do (directly or indirectly); Finally, choose that alternative which maximizes the benefits and minimizes the harms for all concerned. Ut ili tarians think of happiness in terms of a life where pleasures predominate over pains. Thus, we can say that the Principle of U tility approves of individual actions -- or social policies -- that promote the general happiness, and disapproves of actions and policies that detract from the general happiness. Accordingly, the Utili tarian's slogan for the ultimate moral goal of social legislation was "the Greatest Happiness of the Greatest Number". ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course PHIL 1318 taught by Professor None during the Fall '08 term at SMU.
- Fall '08