A moral understanding of utilitarianism

That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.

Rowman and Littlefield, Moore further criticized the view that pleasure itself was an intrinsic good, since it failed a kind of isolation test that he proposed for intrinsic value. Moreover, in calculating the pleasures and pains involved in carrying out a course of action the "hedonic calculus"there is a fundamental commitment to human equality.

In chapter V, Mill tries to show that utilitarianism is compatible with justice. In the political context, the problem is how we can get self-interested rulers to rule in the interest of the governed, as utilitarianism implies that they should.

Though this avoids a regress, it appears to render sanction utilitarianism internally inconsistent. Sanction utilitarianism provides an indirect utilitarian account of the conditions under which an action—any action—is right or wrong.

If so, there is no thesis that is both substantive and plausible. According to Singer, a person should keep donating money to people in dire need until the donor reaches the point where giving to others generates more harm to the donor than the good that is generated for the recipients.

Rather, he is saying when each of us does focus on her own ends or sake, we find that each cares about her own happiness. It is the justification, and ought to be the controller, of all ends, but it is not itself the sole end.

Recall that Bentham was enormously interested in social reform. Moreover, it is clear that Mill thinks we need to depart from otherwise justified secondary principles in an important range of cases.

Pros and Cons Act utilitarianism is often seen as the most natural interpretation of the utilitarian ideal.

Mill's Moral and Political Philosophy

The key point is that while rule utilitarianism permits partiality toward some people, it can also generate rules that limit the ways in which people may act partially and it might even support a positive duty for well off people to provide assistance to strangers when the needs and interests of people to whom we are partial are fully met, when they have surplus resources that could be used to assist strangers in dire conditions, and when there are ways to channel these resources effectively to people in dire need.

Commonsense moral thinking recognizes a familiar fourfold deontic distinction. The virtuous person is one whose affections, motives, dispositions are of the right sort, not one whose behavior is simply of the right sort and who is able to reflect on goodness, and her own goodness [see Gill].

The moral impulse of utilitarianism is constant, but our decisions under it are contingent on our knowledge and scientific understanding. One also considers extent — the number of people affected by the action. It is also interesting in terms of political philosophy and social policy. At the point when the operator's refusal takes the specific form of saying that while others, almost certainly, will realize fiendish, in any event it won't come to fruition through him, the charge may helpfully appear as saying that the specialist shows a possessive attitude towards his own uprightness.

This contains fourteen articles, including essays defending utilitarianism by R. They explain that in general, we want people to keep their promises even in some cases in which doing so may lead to less utility than breaking the promise.

As a general characteristic of acts of this sort, it is to a great extent superfluous to inquiries of what to do without a moment's hesitation, however it might be significant to different parts of the circumstance, along these lines we may have a favorable opinion of the operator for discovering this sort of act distasteful, his reaction being taken as a consoling indication of good character.

If the constraint is relative to possible or ideal psychology, then it is not clear that even a highly revisionary moral theory need flout the constraint.

The History of Utilitarianism

He mentions four reasons for maintaining free speech and opposing censorship. Utilitarianism is the idea that the moral worth of an action is solely determined by its contribution to overall utility in maximizing happiness or pleasure as summed among all people. It is, then, the total utility of individuals which is important here, the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.

John Stuart Mill (–) was the most famous and influential British philosopher of the nineteenth century. He was one of the last systematic philosophers, making significant contributions in logic, metaphysics, epistemology. Mill defines utilitarianism as a theory based on the principle that "actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness." Mill defines happiness as pleasure and the absence of pain.

Mill's Utilitarianism () is an extended explanation of utilitarian moral theory. In an effort to respond to criticisms of the doctrine, Mill not only argued in favor of the basic principles of Jeremy Bentham but also offered several significant improvements to its structure, meaning, and application.

A moral understanding of Utilitarianism and torture Essay Aaron Casas Philosophy Professor Reath February 26th, A Moral Understanding of Utilitarianism and Torture KSM is a mastermind terrorist who has been captured by the CIA.

What is distinctive about utilitarianism is its approach in taking that insight and developing an account of moral evaluation and moral direction that expands on it. Early precursors to the Classical Utilitarians include the British Moralists, Cumberland, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Gay, and Hume.

A moral understanding of utilitarianism
Rated 5/5 based on 99 review
Utilitarianism, Act and Rule | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy