Outline the Main Principles of Utilitarianism

Topics: Utilitarianism, Pleasure, Hedonism Pages: 2 (664 words) Published: March 20, 2013
Outline the main principles of utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is a teleological theory. Three main philosophers have come up with different types of utilitarianism these being: Bentham, Mill and Singer. Bentham introducing the idea of Act Utilitarianism, Mill adapting the ideas of Bentham and trying improve the flaws he saw with his Rule utilitarianism and Singer with his preference utilitarianism theory.

Bentham was hedonist, meaning he was a pleasure seeker. Bentham portrayed two main features of utilitarianism, one being the consequentialist principle. The consequentialist principle states that the rightness or wrongness of an act is determined by the goodness or badness of the results that flow from it this shows the teleological side of the theory. The second feature portrayed is the Utility principle this is “the greatest good for the greatest number.” But Bentham being a hedonist devised his own twist on this and stated that his principle would be “the greatest pleasure for the greatest number.” As he believed “nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters’ pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as what we shall do.” Bentham said if an event brought more pleasure and avoided pain then it was seen as good. Bentham devised a way of measuring pleasure and this was known as the hedonic calculus it was based on a quantitative scale and the seven aspects to help you calculate whether something was painful or pleasurable were: Duration, Remoteness, Purity, Richness, Intensity, Certainty and Extent. These factors all made up the Hedonic calculus. Bentham’s utilitarian theories and ideas are usually linked with the idea of Act utilitarianism. Act Utilitarianism says that the principle of utility should be applied to every individual situation. It states that a person should act when the anticipated result brings the most pleasure. One of the main principles of Utilitarianism is Act...
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