Two of the most influential utilitarians in the 18th century were Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. Although Bentham and Mill were both undoubtedly utilitarian, there are some crucial topics they disagreed on. Jeremy Bentham is an act-utilitarianism, meaning he believes that an act is right if and only if it leads to greater utility (Johnson, “Consequentialism” 4). While Mill is a rule-utilitarianism—he believes that an action is right if and only i...
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...rge number of people would consider to be too large to come from such a widely known theory.
In examining our case of voting for a bill that would increase utility but ultimately fails, I do not believe that it would be possible to vote in a way that both Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill would say that your action was morally correct. Bentham and other act-utilitarians would say that there is not a correct decision to be made. You either vote ethically, for the bill to pass, or vote with the majority; either way the overall utility of the community decreases. Thus, no action is morally acceptable. Mill, on the other hand, would suggest that you vote for the bill to pass regardless of the outcome. It is quite easy to find arguments against utilitarianism and not easy to find defense against these objections; therefore, I believe that utilitarianism is untenable.
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