Positive utilitarianism attempts to maximise the amount of happiness, pleasure, preferences, etc, as in the maxim, 'The greatest good for the greatest number.' Therefore, a positive utilitarian will say we should aim simply to increase the happiness of all those affected by our actions. Negative utilitarianism is the attempt to minimise the amount of misery. An action is right if and only if it produces at least as much good for all affected by the action as any alternative action the agent could do instead. Therefore, a negative utilitarian will say that we should seek to reduce the unhappiness of those affected by our actions. One way of ending human misery is by putting all human beings out of their misery. This course of action is usually considered unacceptable.
Ideal and Hedonistic Utilitarianism
Ideal utilitarianism, like most forms of utilitarianism, is concerned solely with maximising the good. What is distinctive about ideal utilitarianism is its view as to what the good is, as to what it is that we ought to try to bring about. The ideal utilitarian, unlike the hedonistic utilitarian, is not concerned only with happiness, but also with other intrinsic goods, such as beauty or knowledge. A leading advocate of ideal utilitarianism was GE Moore. Hedonistic utilitarianism holds that the only type of good is pleasure, and that everything else is valuable only insofar as it causes pleasure. Hedonistic utilitarianism therefore holds that we ought to act in whatever way maximizes pleasure. Preference Utilitarianism
Preference utilitarianism is a particular variant of utilitarianism which defines utility in terms of preference satisfaction. So, like any utilitarian theory, preference utilitarians claim that the right thing to do is that which produces the best consequences, but they define the best consequences in terms of preference satisfaction. However, one problem with this view is it...