According to J.J.C. Smart, utilitarianism is a theory that all actions are judged by their consequences. The following paper will deal with two forms of utilitarianism: 1) extreme utilitarianism, and 2) restricted utilitarianism. J.J.C. Smart outlines the various aspects of each of these forms of utilitarianism in his paper, Extreme and Restricted Utilitarianism. These aspects will be discussed in the current paper. The differences between the two forms of utilitarianism will also be discussed. Within his paper, J.J.C. Smart poses some very valid challenges towards utilitarianism. This paper will outline these challenges and propose some possible rebuttals from John Stuart Mill.
According to Smart, an extreme utilitarian believes that general rules are simply rules of thumb that we use in order to avoid having to figure out the possible consequences of our actions at every step. Smart also states that an extreme utilitarian will direct his behaviour according to the rules of morality.
The examples Smart provides are "do not lie", and "do not break promises". Use religion as an example. Most religions follow fairly strict rules and/or commandments. These rules are followed because the consequences of not following them would not benefit the majority of people. It is the current author's belief that most religions follow extreme utilitarianism. In Smart's paper on utilitarianism, he discusses the frequency of actions and decisions being made in a hurry. Smart used the example of a person drowning; however for the sake of change, imagine a different example.
You are driving down a fairly deserted road. You see a stranded motorist on the shoulder of the road. There is no time to make a decision, after all if you wait to long, you'll have passed the motorist. Trusting his instincts, according to Smart, the extreme utilitarian would stop...