Thursday, March 7, 2019
Ã¯Â»Â¿Explain the main features of the theory of Utilitarianism Essay
The guess of Utilitarianism takes its name from the Latin word Utilis, meaning helpful. It was first developed by Jeremy Bentham, a philosopher and legal theorist of the eighteenth century. Bentham sought to produce a modern and rational approach to devotion which would suit the changing ordering of the industrial age. This was also the era of the cut and American Revolutions, and of the Enlightenment, so orthodox morality was challenged on many fronts.Utilitarianism may be regarded as a relativist, consequentialist and teleological system of morality, prescribing no bushel moral rules and judging an action by its consequences or end case (Greek telos). Bentham argued that one should maximise happiness for the majority (the sterling(prenominal) good for the greatest number Francis Hutcheson), a view which is known as the Utility convention. Happiness was thus equated with moral goodness. This idea further identifies Bentham as a psychological hedonist, since he regarded hu mans as being generally motivated by diedition and the avoidance of pain.A contented society would be a good society. To bring reason and evidence to the palm of ethics, Bentham then hurtle forward what he regarded as a scientific or empirical process for do moral decisions, known as the hedonic calculus. This consisted of seven key criteria one must depend when making a moral choice Intensity Duration demonstration Propinquity or remoteness (how close at hand pleasure falls) Fecundity (how likely pleasure is to be followed by more pleasure) honour Extent (how many people it affects).Later in the 19th century, Benthams God son John Stuart mess about modified his theory. Mill was a leading politician and philosopher of his day, advocating thorough and liberal causes such as the comparability of women. He regarded Utilitarianism as an important but flawed approach to ethics. sequence Bentham had regarded all pleasures as commensurate (they ar all equal or equivalent), Mil l distinguished amongst high and lower pleasures. Higher pleasures would be those which engaged the mind (e. g. music or poetry), but lower pleasures would be those which engaged merely the body (e. g.eating, sex).Mill developed the idea of capable evaluators those who had experienced the full range of pleasures could discriminate between what is higher and lower. A good society would be refined and constructive in its pleasures, and so Mill avoided the charge that Utilitarianism is a system of base gratification. some other key distinction between Bentham and Mill lies in the difference between Act and Rule theories of Utilitarianism. Bentham proposed an Act Utilitarian approach, meaning that he set each individual action separately, without any rules to guide the individual.Mill slowdown proposed that one should make rules based upon the consequences which tend to follow from certain actions (e. g. stealing tends to cause pain, so we should have a rule against stealing). S o, despite advocating the alike underlying idea (the promotion of happiness), we can see that Mill and Bentham arrived at two very diverse approaches to morality, with Mill avoiding some of the more radical and controversial ideas put forward by Bentham. Evaluate the main strengths and weaknesses of the theory The strengths and weaknesses of Utilitarianism vary between different versions of the theory.The advantages of Act Utilitarianism are not the alike as those of Rule Mills outlook was very different from that of Bentham. Overall, however, the strengths of both forms are outweighed by their weaknesses. They are not convince as ethical systems, and some other approach to ethics is required. An advantage of Benthams Act Utilitarianism is that it considers the consequences and happiness which result from actions this seems a sensible approach to ethics which would find much support today. The theory is also flexible and behind to apply it does not prescribe many hard rules an d provides a simple method for decision making.The theory also enables tough decision making through its relativism (i. e. it would free us to sacrifice individuals if it is of great benefit to society). The puzzle with Benthams theory however is that it is truly relativistic, so any conceivable action could be allowed (killing for the sake of pleasure, or ideology). It also enables the suffering of the ingenuous under a majority, despite obvious injustice. It further allows cruel or sadistic pleasure, since Bentham regarded all pleasure as commensurate (equal), a station noted by the philosopher Bernard Williams.Mills theory offers many advantages which catch around the problems of Benthams Act Utilitarianism. By distinguishing between the quality of pleasures, Mill rules out the possibility of sadism or evil pleasure (e. g. prison guards enjoying distortion an innocent victim). Also, by offering Rule Utilitarianism, Mill is stating that certain actions are explicitly prohib ited because they tend to promote pain. So, he would not allow torture, no matter how much it was enjoyed. However, Mills theory lacks the flexibleness of Benthams, which means that sensible rule breaking is no longer feasible (an objection pointed out by R. M. Hare).One could not tell washcloth lies, even to protect others. There is a further weakness in Mills idea of different qualities of pleasure how can we judge what makes pleasure higher or lower? Surely this is a unobjective matter, as taste varies from person to person. It might also be argued that the imagination of a competent judge is vague, since it is not clear whether we can in reality identify such people in todays society. Overall, the theories put forward by Bentham and Mill fail to provide a convincing or useful approach to ethics. On the one hand, Benthams views are strikingly relativistic, allowing any pleasure (even sadism).On the other hand, Mills Rule system lacks the flexibility to make sensible choices in vexed situations. It may be that some other and more modern version of the theory can overcome these problems, such as Welfare Utilitarianism (as back up by Peter Singer) or Two Rule Utilitarianism (as suggested by R. M. Hare). We could lessen a balance between favouring firm moral principles and paying anxiety to significant consequences or the all-round wellbeing of society. Such a compromise offers a more promising approach to ethics than the classical forms of Utilitarianism.