Abortion and Utilitarian

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Abortion

A) Explain how a Utilitarian might respond to the issue of abortion

Utilitarianism is a teleological theory basing the goodness of an action by its presumed consequences. The aim is ‘greatest happiness for the greatest number of people’ and Utilitarian’s base the ‘goodness’ of an action on human experience. There is no single view on the concept of abortion amongst utilitarian’s because there is variation on how utilitarian’s choose to apply the theory.

Utilitarianism was described by Bentham as "the greatest happiness principle" (GHP). Following this logic, a fundamental Utilitarian would go on to consider the views of all the people involved in the situation and go on to make their decision based on what action will make the greatest number of people happy. For instance, if the birth of the baby would send the mother, father, and baby into crushing poverty, then the Utilitarian thing to do would generally be to have the abortion. However if the abortion causes more general misery than abortion, a Utilitarian would have to reject the abortion as this is must be ethically right.

When considering abortion, the foetus is the utility but the party whose interests are being taken into account are still undecided. The foetus view should of course be taken into consideration, as should both the mother and fathers, and some would the communities welfare should also be regarded. Following Jeremy Bentham’s, ‘each to count for one and none for more than another’, all of these viewpoints being examined should be seen as equal. Therefore, the interests of the members collectively constitute the interest of the community. When something is in favour of an individuals interest, it tends to add to the person’s pleasure and take away some of their pain. So it is logical to assume whatever is promoting the interest of the individual would also advance the interest of the community. However some individuals would have an issue with this as they would...
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