Utilitarianism, Utilitarianism And Rule Utilitarianism Essay

Utilitarianism, Utilitarianism And Rule Utilitarianism Essay

Length: 1570 words (4.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Utilitarianism is a moral theory that states that an action is considered right as long as it promotes the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. This theory was first proposed by Jeremy Bentham and later was refined by J.S Mill. Mill differs from Bentham by introducing a qualitative view on pleasure and makes a distinction between act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism. John Hospers critiques utilitarianism and shows that rule utilitarianism under more specific and stricter rules would promote utility better. Bernard Williams believes that utilitarianism is too demanding from people and instead believes virtue ethics is a better solution. Williams seems to have only considered act utilitarianism instead of rule utilitarianism, which may have better responses to the problems proposed by Williams. Sterling Hardwood purposes eleven objections to utilitarianism which can be used to help make compromise between act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism. I will argue that rule utilitarianism can be formed in such a way that it avoids the problems that arise from Williams, and Hardwood.

Utilitarianism was first proposed by Bentham to contrast Plato and associates pleasure and pain as the only intrinsic good and evil. This is based on the principle of utility which approves or disapproves of every action in relation to the happiness it brings. Mill expands on this idea and refers to it as the greatest happiness principle. This is the principle that the right action is the action that brings the most happiness to the the greatest number of people. Happiness is considered the only thing that is desirable, whereas pain is the only intrinsic evil. Mill states that maximizing pleasure may not be the best opti...

... middle of paper ...

...ianism is able to have virtues and rules to fill in where act utilitarianism fails.

The ideal form of utilitarianism would be a form of indirect or rule utilitarianism similar to Hospers views. Rule utilitarianism must find a balance between rules and utility to try and maximize human flourishing. Williams and Harwood both critique utilitarianism, but an ideal rule utilitarianism is able to satisfy any critique posed. An ideal rule utilitarianism would be able to avoid the problem of rule worship while still allowing the rules to carry sufficient meaning. Rule utilitarianism should refine rules to become more specific, which will hopefully lead to the ideal form of rule utilitarianism. Rule utilitarianism is able to respond to the criticisms proposed by Williams and Harwood by making more specific rules that will coincide with the greatest happiness principle.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The And Utilitarianism And Rule Utilitarianism Essay

- Utilitarians are people who believe that good is everyone’s pleasure. This is simply what they call general happiness. They believe that happiness is primarily pleasure and the absence of pain. Utilitarians think actions that give most pleasure to a larger quantity of people is morally right. Their two basic view consist of believing that we should nurture everyone’s happiness and not just one’s own, and accepting that some pleasures are bigger than others. Act and Rule Utilitarianism is based on two principles called the Consequentialist Principle and the Utility Principle....   [tags: Morality, Utilitarianism, Ethics, Human]

Strong Essays
1411 words (4 pages)

Essay about Kantian Ethics And Rule Utilitarianism

- James Liang is one of the Volkswagen engineers who helped to deceive the United States government as to the emissions produced by Volkswagen’s diesel engines. The Volkswagen team built the diesel engines in 2006, but failed to meet the American emissions standards. Instead of delaying their launch in America or redesigning the engines, the engineers chose to include software that recognized emissions testing and changed the settings of the engine to meet the standards during tests. When not being tested, these engines produced up to 40 times the allowed emissions....   [tags: Immanuel Kant, Philosophy, Ethics]

Strong Essays
952 words (2.7 pages)

Is rule-utilitarianism preferable to act-utilitarianism Essay

- Is rule-utilitarianism preferable to act-utilitarianism. Classical utilitarianism is a normative ethical theory which holds that an action can only be considered as morally right where its consequences bring about the greatest amount of good to the greatest number (where 'good' is equal to pleasure minus pain). Likewise, an action is morally wrong where it fails to maximise good. Since it was first articulated in the late 19th Century by the likes of Jeremy Bentham and later John Stewart Mill, the classical approach to utilitarianism has since become the basis for many other consequentialist theories such as rule-utilitarianism and act-utilitarianism upon which this essay will focus (Driver,...   [tags: killing,ethical theory, consequentialism]

Strong Essays
1769 words (5.1 pages)

Essay on Critisism for Rule and Act Utilitarianism

- “Utilitarianism is the view that the supreme principle of morality is to act so as to produce as much happiness as possible, each person counting equally” (Mill, 114). By ‘happiness’, this includes anything that is pleasurable and free of pain. Simply put, utilitarianism is the theory that an action is right, as long as it produces the greatest good for the most number of people (Peetush). The central point to this theory is that one must consider every consequence before taking any action. There are two classical forms of utilitarianism; rule utilitarianism and act utilitarianism....   [tags: utility, individuals, justice]

Strong Essays
1170 words (3.3 pages)

Essay on Act and Rule Utilitarianism: Article Review

- “The only rational course of action is to allow people to override the rules in the interest of the greatest utility.” Act and Rule Utilitarianism are said to be very similar and maybe even collapse into each other when trying to distinguish one from the other. One article has distinguished between act and rule utilitarianism by referring to them as "extreme" and "restricted" utilitarianism. This article claims that the extreme or act version of utilitarianism will use the rules of morality as rules of thumb only....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
842 words (2.4 pages)

Theories, Classical Act Utilitarianism And Rule Consequentialism Essay

- Philosophers attempt to answer arduous questions about the morality of certain actions if they were to be performed by justifying whether different theories can be applied to certain situations. In the text, Moral Theory: An Introduction, the case of Jim is a hypothetical situation that questions the morality of one’s actions that can be rationalized by two theories, classical act utilitarianism and rule consequentialism. In this case, the captain of a military group captured twenty Indians who are rebelling against the government....   [tags: Morality, Ethics, Consequentialism]

Strong Essays
1189 words (3.4 pages)

The Philosophical Teachings of Supernatural Essays

- When my friend first prompted me to watch the show Supernatural, I assumed that it was just going to be another mind-numbing television show. I could not have been more wrong. I had no idea that beneath the action and plots were the shadows of various philosophies. The pilot episode opens up with a young man named Sam Winchester studying at Stanford University. He seems to be no more than a law student with a girlfriend, but everything changes when Sam’s older brother, Dean, comes asking for Sam’s help....   [tags: Sigmund Freud, Stoicism, Rule Utilitarianism]

Strong Essays
1358 words (3.9 pages)

Using Utilitarianism to Address Abortion Essay

- ... So if a parent decides not to get an abortion and has the baby, and the baby grows up to live a terrible life filled with misery and unhappiness, then in this case abortion would be morally impermissible. If the parents, family members, or anyone involved with abortion is effected in a negative way that outweighs the positives, then abortion is morally impermissible again. In another case, if an abortion produces more good than bad in the parents, babies, or anyone else involved in the abortion, then abortion is morally permissible....   [tags: act and rule, morality]

Strong Essays
1293 words (3.7 pages)

Utilitarianism Vs. Utilitarianism : Utilitarianism Essay

- The author J.J.C Smart writes about utilitarianism. He talks about two different types one is extreme utilitarianism and the other is restricted utilitarianism. The first one is called Extreme utilitarianism which is an action that gives you the greatest amount of happiness, for the most amounts of people is the right action, no matter what the moral rule is. On the other hand restricted utilitarianism on the other hand, seeks to find an action that creates the greatest amount of happiness to the most people....   [tags: Morality, Utilitarianism, Animal rights, Human]

Strong Essays
722 words (2.1 pages)

Utilitarianism Essay

- This essay will present the key features of Utilitarianism and identify the problems of Utilitarianism to the extent to which they make Utilitarianism unacceptable. Jeremy Bentham founded Utilitarianism. He lived at a time of great change. With revolutions in France and America, demands were being made for human rights and greater democracy. Bentham worked on legal reform. Utilitarianism is associated with the principle of utility. Utility means the amount of satisfaction or pleasure that somebody gains from consuming a commodity, product, or service, i.e.; useful....   [tags: criticisms of utilitarianism]

Strong Essays
1212 words (3.5 pages)