explain the forms of utilitarianism

Essay by phoenixashesHigh School, 12th grade November 2014

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AS Religious Studies Revision: Utilitarianism

AO1 Material: i.e. 'what goes in part a)?'

What type of ethical theory is it?

Teleological: it aims to bring about a greater good. It looks at what your ethical action is aimed at bringing about, rather than deontological ethics which focuses on the intrinsic rightness or wrongness of actions.

Consequentialist: it looks at the consequences of actions, not the actions themselves. An action is deemed 'good' if it brings about good consequences.

Relative: goodness of actions depend on the circumstances; there are no fixed moral principles.

Naturalist: the goodness of an action is defined in terms of natural properties i.e. pleasure, something that occurs naturally.

How does this ethical theory tell us to act? See Hamilton pages 66 - 85.

Jeremy Bentham and Act Utilitarianism.

Hedonistic: good actions are those that bring the most pleasure and humans are motivated by the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

Principle of utility: 'an action is right if it produces the greatest pleasure for the greatest number.'

Hedonic/Felicific Calculus: there are 7 criteria to be met for an action to be deemed good.

Goodness of an action is judged by the amount of pleasure brought by the outcomes.

John Stuart Mill and Rule Utilitarianism.

Higher and lower pleasures: better to be a Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.

Acceptable for communities to establish fixed rules that benefit the majority. Rules must be followed even if they don't bring pleasure to the individual.

Two-Rule Utilitarianism.

Morality based on rules and customs is acceptable for most situations, but occasionally we will need to use utilitarian thinking, where we have to consider the consequences. Richard Hare talks about morality for archangels and proles.

Preference Utilitarianism.

This makes a distinction between pleasure and best interests or welfare. Some...