Although Jeremy Bentham’s act utilitarianism is similar to the amended rule utilitarianism, there are differences between the two theories. These differences will be examined in this essay.
Act utilitarianism is a teleological theory. People who believe in this theory say that the goodness of an act is measured through the consequences of that act, and that each moral dilemma/situation is different. For example, if a person was asked a question, and lying would provide greater pleasure/happiness than answering the question truthfully, they would say it would be okay to lie.
Rule utilitarianism is different. This is a deontological theory, as they believe that society should all follow general rules, to bring about the greatest good for society, and those rules should be followed even if they don’t bring the most pleasure to the one making a decision. For example a person must always drive on the right hand side of the road, even if they are in a traffic jam and It would be more pleasurable to drive on the other side.
Another difference between act and rule is that rule utilitarianism differentiates between higher and lower pleasures. Higher and lower pleasures were distinguished as a solution for the criticism of benthams act utilitarianism basing pleasure on a purely quantitative scale, which meant the minority would suffer. Mill came up with the theory of higher and lower pleasure, higher being qualitatively better, and more important than lower pleasures. Mill claims that higher pleasures should be considered even if we become unhappy because we have forgone quantity.
Mill describes higher pleasures as ‘pleasures of the mind’, such as education and social interaction, to lower pleasures of the body, such as eating, drinking and having sex.
In conclusion, the main differences between act and rule utilitarianism are as follows; act utilitarianism considers the consequences of the action rather than the action itself, making it a teleological theory, where...