Main representatives : The British philosophers Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806–1873). The principle of utility : Actions are morally praiseworthy if they promote the greatest human welfare, and blameworthy if they do not. o (2) Utilitarianism Six points concerning utilitarianism : In choosing between alternative courses of action, we should consider the net worth of happiness vs. unhappiness produced by each course of action. We should give equal consideration to all individual preferences, then calculate the net worth of the various kinds of pleasures and pains. o (3) Utilitarianism (3) Anything can be morally praiseworthy in some circumstances if it promotes the greatest balance of pleasure vs. pain for the greatest number of people. (4) We should seek to maximize happiness, not only immediately, but in the long run. (5) We should avoid choosing actions if their consequences are uncertain. (6) We must guard against bias in our utilitarian calculations when our own interests are at stake. So it is advisable to rely on rules of thumb. o (4) Utilitarianism Utilitarianism in an organizational context : Provides a clear and straightforward standard for formulating and testing policies. Offers an objective way for resolving conflicts of self-interest. Suggests a flexible, result-oriented approach to moral decision making. o (5) Utilitarianism Criticisms of utilitarianism : The practical application of the principle of utility involves considerable difficulties. Some actions seem to be intrinsically immoral, though performing them can maximize happiness.
Utilitarianism is concerned with the amount of happiness produced, not how the amount is distributed, so the theory can run counter to principles of justice. o (6) Utilitarianism Utility and self-interest : Businesses are concerned with increasing profit and can be viewed as egoistic, but pursuing one’s own economic advantage can increase the well-being of society as a whole. Adam Smith (1723–1790) : The main promoter of classical capitalism who argued that society can flourish if businesses are left to freely pursue their self-interests. o (1) Kant’s Ethics Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) : A German philosopher with a nonconsequentialist approach to ethics. Said the moral worth of an action is determined on the basis of its intrinsic features or character, not results or consequences. Believed in good will , that good actions proceed from right intentions, those inspired by a sense of duty. o (2) Kant’s Ethics The categorical imperative : Morality as a system of laws analogous to the laws of physics in terms of their universal applicability. The morality of an action depends on whether the maxim (or subjective principle) behind it can be willed as a universal law without committing a logical contradiction.