Utilitarianism

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In this essay I will discuss Utilitarianism by first explaining how Utilitarians are consequentialists who base their actions on the pleasure of pain of their consequences. Secondly, Jeremy Bentham will be discussed as the propagator of the Principle of Utility which determines human self-interest and voluntary action to achieve the greatest good or greatest pleasure. Thirdly, I will discuss John Stuart Mills and his more complex version of Utilitarianism. To clarify the Utilitarian theory I will illustrate and assess different examples of complex situations, simultaneously doing a critique on the theory, in order to conclude the relevance of Utilitarianism in society. (101)

Consequentialism looks at the desirability and undesirability of consequences; meaning people base their actions on what is right and wrong by the virtue of the outcome. The Principle of Utility was derived by Jeremy Bentham and originated from psychological hedonism. Psychological hedonism is a form of psychological egoism that describes the human motive and desire to experience pleasure and avoid pain. The Principle of Utility is therefore described as the determination of right and wrong actions with right actions producing the greatest happiness or greatest good for the greatest number of people, while wrong actions produce unhappiness and pain. Thus, Utilitarians can be seen as Consequentialists because their actions are governed by consequences which can either result in pleasure or pain.

Jeremy Bentham derived the Principle of Utility and viewed this principle as the foundation of all ethics. Bentham searched for what had the ultimate intrinsic value. For something to be of intrinsic value it must be desirable in itself, for example, health. People do not want good health for any other reason than to be healthy. There are many things that can be seen to have intrinsic value, such as knowledge, success, or God’s Will. However, Bentham wanted to identify the intrinsic value that...
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