Rules in Utilitarianism Reconsidered

1472 Words6 Pages
Is utilitarianism able to account for the importance of justice and honesty? Be sure to discuss both rule and act utilitarianism. Do either of these accounts work? Explain your answer.

Justice and Honesty: Rules in Utilitarianism Reconsidered

Utilitarianism, with the Principle of Utility or Greatest Happiness Principle being its core, is a consequentialist theory which attaches the greatest importance to the consequences of each action. While acting justly and honestly may not always bring the best consequences, some criticize its conflicts between traditional moral rules or virtues, such as justice and honesty.

To answer the challenge, it is essential to distinguishing two kinds of utilitarianism, one being act-utilitarianism and the other being rule-utilitarianism. In order to focus on the question about the relationship between the two moral rules and utilitarianism, I am not going to compare which kind of utilitarianism is more convincing. Rather, I argue that both types of utilitarianism could avoid the conflicts mentioned before, and could account for the significance of justice and honesty.

It is suitable to define justice and honesty before evaluating act-utilitarianism and rule-utilitarianism. To our common understanding, justice is that people should get what they are due (Audi), while honesty requires one to tell the truth, and to be trustworthy. Although in extreme situations, the limits given by justice and honesty can be reasonably crossed, it is still widely accepted that this kind of limits should be well-respected (Deigh 102). In short, justice and honesty are moral rules that can rarely be violated.

In this paper I would like to shed light on the fact that utilitarianism could justify why justice ...

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...rpose of this essay is to evaluate how well both kinds of utilitarianism defend their positions on the importance of justice and honesty.

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Works Cited

1. Audi, Robert. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Print.

2. Chen, Te. "Rule Utilitarianism and Act Utilitarianism." The Ethics Interpretation Theory. 2 ed. Taipei: Dong da, 200901. 92 - 112. Print.

3. Deigh, John. "Utilitarianism." An Introduction to Ethics. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 102. Print.

4. Deigh, John. "Utilitarianism." An Introduction to Ethics. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. 101. Print.

5. Rawls, John. "Two Concepts of Rules." The Philosophical Review 64.1 (1955): 3-32. Print.

6. Smart, J. J. C.. "Extreme and Restricted Utilitarianism." The Philosophical Quarterly 6.25 (1956): 344-354. Print.

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