We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

See Pricing

What's Your Topic?

Hire a Professional Writer Now

The input space is limited by 250 symbols

What's Your Deadline?

Choose 3 Hours or More.
Back
2/4 steps

How Many Pages?

Back
3/4 steps

Sign Up and See Pricing

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Back
Get Offer

Utilitarianism: Guideline on How People Should Act

Hire a Professional Writer Now

The input space is limited by 250 symbols

Deadline:2 days left
"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

Utilitarianism is an ethical theory which acts as a guideline on how people should act in certain situations and was first introduced by a hedonist (pursuer of pleasure) named Jeremy Bentham who put forward the ‘Principle of Utility’ which said “The greatest happiness for the greatest number”. Utilitarianism is a theory which bases on the end purpose (teleological) of achieving pleasure, our decisions should be based on consequences in pursuit of the principle of utility (consequentialist) and is a theory which judges each situation independently (relativistic).

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Utilitarianism: Guideline on How People Should Act
Just from $13,9/Page
Get custom paper

Jeremy Bentham was the first contributor and developer for Utilitarianism and was most famous for his version of ‘Act’ Utilitarianism which focused applying the Principle of utility to each individual act to each unique situation. Bentham believed that happiness was the first thing to consider when making a decision, and our pleasure helped us achieve the most happiness. Bentham said that ‘Nature has placed mankind under two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure and it is them that will determine what we ought to do’ meaning the right moral decision will come about through the considerations of pleasure and pain.

He devised the ‘Hedonic calculus’ (hedonic meaning pleasure) which was a piece of apparatus which helped him quantify happiness. The Hedonic calculus holds seven aspects which need to be considered: Duration (How long the pleasure will last), Remoteness (How close is the happiness), Purity (How free from pain is the pleasure), Richness (How likely will the pleasure lead to more happiness), Intensity (How strong the pleasure is), Certainty (How sure the act will produce happiness) and Extent (Will other people be affected by the pleasure).

It’s these factors which a person must consider and weigh up in terms of pain and pleasure in order to find the most moral and ethical decision to make, if the calculus totals up in more pain over pleasure then this defines it as the wrong choice to make. Bentham says that you must choose the act which maximises the amount of pleasure for the most amounts of people to ensure happiness. Bentham believed that all people were entitled to happiness, and thus each to count as one and no-one as more than one.

However, there were many obvious faults in this theory; for example, eating a chocolate bar is subjective to people who like and dislike chocolate therefore not every action has equal pleasure and pain for every person. John Stuart Mill, a fellow colleague of Jeremy Bentham criticised him for developing a ‘Swine theory’ as it encouraged people to be selfish and recognizes no higher purpose for life other than the mere pursuit of pleasure. Mill was concerned that one person’s unhappiness could be entirely overlooked if the majority were happy.

Unlike Bentham, Mill focused on differentiating the quality of pleasure and thus introduced a new theory of utility called ‘Rule’ Utilitarianism which acted as a general guideline that achieved happiness without discriminating. Mill’s definition of happiness was tended to the spiritual and culture side rather than just physical. He distinguished between Higher and lower pleasures, higher pleasures were in pleasures in tune with the mind such as reading and poetry and lower pleasures tended to physical needs to do with the body like sex and eating.

Mill stated that lower pleasures are more easily accomplishable and thus have to be completed before satisfying the intellectual needs of the mind. He famously wrote ‘It is better to be a human satisfied than a pig satisfied, it is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied’ this meant that humans were able to feel much more rewarding emotions far above the magnitude of the feelings of the pig, regardless of dissatisfaction. Two types of rule utilitarianism have been identified in modern times, strong rule and weak rule utilitarian.

Each still focuses on the application of a general rule to achieve happiness, but strong rule utilitarianism defines the rule as absolute and must not be broken, an example of this is ‘Do not kill’ which is created through the principle of utility. Weak rule utilitarianism offers a person the choice to break certain rules in order to achieve the greater good as an exception, for example the rule of ‘Do not kill’ could be broken if the opportunity to kill Hitler to prevent more pain from occurring. Mill was defined by some scholars as a weak Utilitarian

Cite this Utilitarianism: Guideline on How People Should Act

Utilitarianism: Guideline on How People Should Act. (2016, Sep 30). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/utilitarianism-essay/

Show less
  • Use multiple resourses when assembling your essay
  • Get help form professional writers when not sure you can do it yourself
  • Use Plagiarism Checker to double check your essay
  • Do not copy and paste free to download essays
Get plagiarism free essay

Search for essay samples now

Haven't found the Essay You Want?

Get my paper now

For Only $13.90/page