"Create all the happiness you are able to create; remove all the misery you are able to remove." - Jeremy BenthamJeremy Bentham created the utilitarianism school of thought, which is an incredibly useful ethical position. It can be most effectively defined by Wikipedia, "Utilitarianism is the idea that the moral worth of an action is solely determined by its contribution to overall utility." Utilitarianism has many benefits, but those benefits are harmonized with some major flaws. I will discuss the founding fathers of utilitarianism, the strengths and weaknesses of act-utilitarianism and rule-utilitarianism, other forms of utilitarianism, and recent philosophers of this school of thought.
This idea of the greatest good for the greatest number was developed by Jeremy Bentham. Although the ides of utilitarianism is often traced back to and credited to Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill carried on his work and became well know for his development of the Utilitarianism theory.
In Utilitarianism, Mill's famous short work, he argued that cultural, intellectual, and spiritual pleasures hold a higher value than physical pleasures. He believed that the cultural, intellectual, and spiritual values held more value in the eyes of someone who had experienced both the physical pleasures as well as the cultural, intellectual, and spiritual pleasures. In other words, the quality of pleasure was better than the quantity of pleasure. 'It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied' As stated by rsrevision.com. Utilitarianism says that if actions promote the greatest happiness of the greatest number, then actions are right. This is the basic principle of ethics, and the foundation of morality.
Act utilitarianism states that, when faced with a choice, we must first consider the likely consequences of potential actions, and from that, choose to do...