Act Utilitarianism

Topics: Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham, Torture Pages: 2 (489 words) Published: November 6, 2012
Act Utilitarianism
The theory of Utilitarianism was first developed by Jeremy Bentham who was a philosopher of the 18th century. Bentham developed this theory to create a modern and rational approach to morality which would suit the changing society. Bentham’s theory Act Utilitarianism has many strengths and weaknesses. A Strength is that this theory is considers the consequences and happiness which an action has created. This is because Act Utilitarianism is a teleological theory where actions are based on results. For example if I splash cold water at someone to wake up for school this is a good action as it has good consequences because the person I splashed water on can go on to school and gain knowledge and this I will also create happiness. Another strength would be that this theory is always seeking the “Greatest Good for the Greatest Number”. For example if I was going to bomb the world with a bomb I planted in a secret location and the only way to get the information was to torture me. An Act Utilitarian would say that I should be tortured so that I could give the information on where the bomb was and this that would create the greatest good for the greatest number. There are also many problems with Bentham’s theory as it allows cruel or sadistic pleasure as long as it out ways the pain. For example if ten sadists torture one child pleasure out ways the child’s pain making the action right in an Act Utilitarian eyes. Also if someone intentions are good but the consequence of their action is bad an Act Utilitarian would say this wrong even thought the intention was good. For example if I help an old man across the street and then he assassinates someone my action which was good becomes bad because of the consequence. Another weakness is that there is always a minority which will not benefit from an action and this could cause a great amount of pain for that minority and the pain of this minority could out way the pleasure of the majority but it is too...
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