An analysis of the act and rule utilitarianism as successful moral theories

Get Full Essay Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues. Utilitarianism is teleological or consequentialist approach to ethics, which argues that something is good or bad according to its benefit for the majority of the people.

An analysis of the act and rule utilitarianism as successful moral theories

Bentham's book An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation was printed in but not published until It is possible that Bentham was spurred on to publish after he saw the success of Paley's The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy.

Bentham's work opens with a statement of the principle of utility: It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do… By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever according to the tendency it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: I say of every action whatsoever, and therefore not only of every action of a private individual, but of every measure of government.

In Chapter IV, Bentham introduces a method of calculating the value of pleasures and pains, which has come to be known as the hedonic calculus. In addition, it is necessary to consider "the tendency of any act by which it is produced" and, therefore, to take account of the act's fecundity, or the chance it has of being followed by sensations of the same kind and its purity, or the chance it has of not being followed by sensations of the opposite kind.

An analysis of the act and rule utilitarianism as successful moral theories

Finally, it is necessary to consider the extent, or the number of people affected by the action. Perhaps aware that Hutcheson eventually removed his algorithms for calculating the greatest happiness because they "appear'd useless, and were disagreeable to some readers", [23] Bentham contends that there is nothing novel or unwarranted about his method, for "in all this there is nothing but what the practice of mankind, wheresoever they have a clear view of their own interest, is perfectly conformable to.

Mill " and can be more "a crude version of act utilitarianism conceived in the twentieth century as a straw man to be attacked and rejected. His seminal work is concerned with the principles of legislation and the hedonic calculus is introduced with the words "Pleasures then, and the avoidance of pains, are the ends that the legislator has in view.

This is considered in The Theory of Legislation, where Bentham distinguishes between evils of the first and second orders. Those of the first order are the more immediate consequences; those of the second are when the consequences spread through the community causing "alarm" and "danger".

It is true there are cases in which, if we confine ourselves to the effects of the first order, the good will have an incontestable preponderance over the evil. Were the offence considered only under this point of view, it would not be easy to assign any good reasons to justify the rigour of the laws.

Every thing depends upon the evil of the second order; it is this which gives to such actions the character of crime, and which makes punishment necessary. Let us take, for example, the physical desire of satisfying hunger.

Let a beggar, pressed by hunger, steal from a rich man's house a loaf, which perhaps saves him from starving, can it be possible to compare the good which the thief acquires for himself, with the evil which the rich man suffers?

John Stuart Mill Mill was brought up as a Benthamite with the explicit intention that he would carry on the cause of utilitarianism. It would be absurd that while, in estimating all other things, quality is considered as well as quantity, the estimation of pleasures should be supposed to depend on quantity alone.

The word utility is used to mean general well-being or happiness, and Mill's view is that utility is the consequence of a good action.

Utility, within the context of utilitarianism, refers to people performing actions for social utility. With social utility, he means the well-being of many people. Mill's explanation of the concept of utility in his work, Utilitarianism, is that people really do desire happiness, and since each individual desires their own happiness, it must follow that all of us desire the happiness of everyone, contributing to a larger social utility.

Thus, an action that results in the greatest pleasure for the utility of society is the best action, or as Jeremy Bentham, the founder of early Utilitarianism put it, as the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Mill not only viewed actions as a core part of utility, but as the directive rule of moral human conduct.

Utilitarian Theories

The rule being that we should only be committing actions that provide pleasure to society. This view of pleasure was hedonistic, as it pursued the thought that pleasure is the highest good in life.

This concept was adopted by Jeremy Bentham, the founder of Utilitarianism, and can be seen in his works. According to Mill, good actions result in pleasure, and that there is no higher end than pleasure.

Mill says that good actions lead to pleasure and define good character. Better put, the justification of character, and whether an action is good or not, is based on how the person contributes to the concept of social utility.

In the long run the best proof of a good character is good actions; and resolutely refuse to consider any mental disposition as good, of which the predominant tendency is to produce bad conduct. In the last chapter of Utilitarianism, Mill concludes that justice, as a classifying factor of our actions being just or unjust is one of the certain moral requirements, and when the requirements are all regarded collectively, they are viewed as greater according to this scale of "social utility" as Mill puts it.

He also notes that, contrary to what its critics might say, there is "no known Epicurean theory of life which does not assign to the pleasures of the intellect… a much higher value as pleasures than to those of mere sensation.

The accusation that hedonism is "doctrine worthy only of swine" has a long history. In Nicomachean Ethics Book 1 Chapter 5Aristotle says that identifying the good with pleasure is to prefer a life suitable for beasts.He argues that one of the main reasons for introducing rule utilitarianism was to do justice to the general rules that people need for moral education and character development and he proposes that "a difference between act-utilitarianism and rule-utilitarianism can be introduced by limiting the specificity of the rules, i.e., by increasing.

Act and Rule Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is one of the best known and most influential moral theories. Like other forms of consequentialism, its core idea is that whether actions are morally right or wrong depends on their plombier-nemours.com specifically, the only effects of actions that are relevant are the good and bad results that they produce.

Deontological Ethics There are two major ethics theories that attempt to specify and justify moral rules and principles: utilitarianism and deontological ethics.

Utilitarianism (also called consequentialism) is a moral theory developed and refined in the modern world in the writings of Jeremy Bentham () and John Stuart Mill (). Two such theories are called "act utilitarianism" and "rule utilitarianism." A person operating under act utilitarianism applies the greatest happiness principle in considering the .

Rule Utilitarianism Rule utilitarianism claims that the most efficient means of creating the greater good for humanity is to have a moral code with rules of conduct clearly understood.

Rule-utilitarianism eases the burden that act-utilitarianism places on practical reasoning by establishing moral rules that, when followed, brings about the best consequences. Rule-utilitarianism can be illustrated by the rule “do not kill.”.

Utilitarianism, Act and Rule | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy