Over time, the actions of mankind have been the victim of two vague labels, right and wrong. The criteria for these labels are not clearly defined, but they still seem to be the standard by which the actions of man are judged. There are some people that abide by a deontological view when it comes to judging the nature of actions; the deontological view holds that it is a person's intention that makes an action right or wrong. On the other hand there is the teleological view which holds that it is the result of an action is what makes that act right or wrong. In this essay I will be dealing with utilitarianism, a philosophical principle that holds a teleological view when it comes the nature of actions. To solely discuss utilitarianism is much too broad of topic and must be broken down, so I will discuss specifically quantitative utilitarianism as presented by Jeremy Bentham. In this essay I will present the argument of Bentham supporting his respective form of utilitarianism and I will give my critique of this argument along the way.
Before the main discussion of the Bentham's utilitarianism gets underway, lets first establish what utilitarianism is. As stated in the introduction, utilitarianism is a teleological philosophy that is primarily concerned with the results of an action when determining the nature of that act. Utilitarianism operates primarily under the greater happiness principal, in other words, utilitarians believe that one should only act in such a way that the results of that act should produce the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest for the greatest number of people. It is due to this view that utilitarianism is often criticized for being too hedonistic because it places the moral value of an act only on how much that act effects happiness. The teleological nature of utilitarianism also can serve as a problem because it pays no attention to the intention an action and can make acts of an immoral nature justifiably right. I will use the example that a professor of mine used in which a man tries to snatch an old lady's purse and in his struggle to do so he pulls her out of the way of a speeding vehicle thus saving her life. This act, although it started with mischievous intent, ended with a life being saved and surely produced the greatest amount of happiness for the old lady. In the utilitarian eye this act is morally acceptab...
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...am says that after all of the values of pleasure and pain are summed up, if the balance is on the side of pleasure the act as a whole has a good tendency, as the same for pain. But what if there is no side that the balance lay on? Hypothetically speaking, if there were a community of 200 people and after all of the values of pleasure and pain were added up and the results were split down the middle, what tendency would the act have? In order to even start to answer this there would have to be some sort of value for the pleasure and pain. The values would also have to differ in order to get a definite end result, certain pains and pleasures would have to weigh more than others, but that's "Qualitative Utilitarianism". As for Bentham and "Quantitative Utilitarianism" this is all I have to say, it's all that I could muster.
In conclusion, Bentham's essay does read well. He is very precise in keeping his argument consistent. If there were some kind of way to give things like pleasure and pain definite values, then his quantitative method would be that which all other methods would go by. But things of that nature vary too much and too often to even try to try.
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