The principle of Utilitarianism as written by J.S. Mills can be summed up in his precise language, ‘actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.’ Essentially, the morally correct action is the action that produces the most happiness, and the action that produces unhappiness is the morally incorrect action, and that this is the basis for morality. For example, if you have 20 dollars to spend and you have the option to either buying yourself an ice cream cone or not spending your money, the action that provides you the most happiness would be the correct action, aka, the action that provides you the most utility. Let’s say that buying the ice cream cone will increase your utility by an arbitrary value of 5 whereas saving your money will increase utility by 4. In this scenario, the action that provides you the most utility is buying the ice cream cone, as it will increase your happiness more than not spending your money. Net utility is also applicable, as if buying ice cream would give you 5 arbitrary units of happiness but buying ice cream for 3 others would give them each 2 units of happiness, the morally correct action would be to buy the others ice cream as they achieve the highest net utility from this. Another aspect of utilitarianism is the difference between higher and lower pleasures. While in the previous example, a quantitative measurement of utilitarianism was useful, Mills on the whole rejects a quantitative measurement of utility because he recognizes that some forms of pleasure tha...
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... create rules that would always create the greatest aggregate utility, but then that begs he question why have rules at all? If the rules that lead you to choose the action that creates the most utility, is that any different than direct utilitarianism where the morally correct action creates the greatest utility? And once again, if your rules prevent you from making the choice that leads to the greatest amount of happiness, and you make an exception, then you may as well not have rules; as once you’ve made an exception, you may continue to do so. This is how the George case undermines indirect utilitarianism, as it shows that having secondary rules is no different than being a direct utilitarian.
That is how utilitarianism is a method for the morality of humanity, in which actions are taken not for selfish reasons, but for the greater aggregate happiness of all.
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