Utilitarianism

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Consequentialism

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I) Utilitarianism…………………………………….P.3 II) Introduction to the main idea of Utilitarianism : The Principle of Utility ………………………….P.6 The Greatest Happiness Principle…………….P.9 III) Two kinds of pleasure………………........…P.11 IV) The Calculation of Utility…………………....P.15 V) The measurement of utility……………..…..P.17 VI) The proof of Principle of Greatest Happiness……………………………….…..P.18 VII) The Harm Principle ………………………..P.19 VIII) Assessing Utilitarianism…………………..P.21 2

I) Utilitarianism: + Whenever we have a choice between alternative actions or social policies, we must choose the one that has the best overall consequences for everyone concerned. + According to utilitarianism, the moral worth of an action is determined only by its resulting outcome.

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+ Utilitarianism is the one that maximizes utility,

which is understood in terms of happiness or pleasure, in the moral actions. + For Utilitarianism, the morally best (better) alternative is that which produces the greatest (or greater) net utility, where utility is defined in terms of happiness or pleasure. (Ethics, Mackinnon) 4

+ Two main philosophers of Utilitarianism

Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

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II) Introduction to the main idea of Utilitarianism: A) The Principle of Utility (J. Bentham) “By the Principle of Utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness to the party whose interest is in question” (The Principles of Morals and Legislation, J. Bentham) + The principle is for the promotion of greater happiness. 6

“We ought to do that which produces the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people.” (Ethics, Mackinnon) + It is the guidance or principle of ethics:

We should promote the greatest happiness in choices or actions.

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Example: Killing is morally wrong because it does not promote happiness. But killing would be morally right if it promotes happiness, like the case of Japanese story and the case of disabled person. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BjJ3yms8VM 8

II) Introduction to the main idea of Utilitarianism: B) The Greatest Happiness Principle (J. S. Mill) “…The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” (Utilitarianism, J. S. Mill) “By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by happiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure.” (Utilitarianism, J. S. Mill) 9

+ “According to the Greatest Happiness Principle… the

ultimate end, with reference to and for the sake of which all other things are desirable (whether we are considering our own good or that of other people), is an existence exempt as far as possible from pain, and as rich as possible in enjoyments.” (Utilitarianism, J. S. Mill) + The Greatest Happiness Principle:

Promote pleasure/ utility
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III) Two kinds of pleasure (J. S. Mill): 1) Physical pleasure: satisfaction of physical need 2) Intellectual pleasure: satisfaction of intellectual / spiritual need Example: Aesthetic pleasure, like painting 11

The Painting of Vincent Van Gogh

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The Painting of Claude Monet

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+ The beauty of music:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xg4ekh8 MwfM&list=PLF9B40412F22FA26B http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4ba8A W_Zck

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IV) Calculation of Utility / Happiness + Pleasure minus Pain = Net happiness 1) Act A produces 10 units of happiness and 2 units of unhappiness: net happiness = 8 units of happiness 2) Act B produces 8 units of happiness and 4 units of unhappiness: net happiness = 4 units Act A is morally better than Act B.

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+ The best choice of Utilitarianism is the promotion of

the interests of the greater (or greatest) number. + The...
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