Explain How Bentham’s Version of Utilitarianism May Be Used to Decide on the Right Course of Action.

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Explain how Bentham’s version of Utilitarianism may be used to decide on the right course of action. Utilitarianism is a teleological theory of ethics. It is a method that looks at the consequences of an action to deice whether it is right or wrong; this also makes it a consequentialist theory. In the eighteenth century Hutchenson first used the phrase ‘the greatest good for the greatest number’ which he used to describe the political systems. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) then decided to develop his idea of Utilitarianism from this quote and apply it to all areas of social activity. Bentham was a hedonist believing that pleasure was the chief ‘good’ and that all aspects of life should maximize pleasure and minimize pain and those that did were the most moral acts. He created the principle of utility which established whether an action was good or bad according to the benefits to the majority amount of people. This is sometimes described as ‘the greatest good for the greatest number’ of people making Bentham’s theory quantitative. Bentham said ‘the principle of utility aims to promote happiness which is the supreme ethical value.’ In determining how to measure different amounts of pleasure and deciding on the right and good thing to do Bentham came up with the Hedonistic Calculus. This was a calculus to weigh up pain and pleasure and a way of testing whether an action is morally right, one that results in the most pleasurable outcome. It is measured in a quantitative way. Looking at the quantity of happiness produced from the action. It consists of seven key elements which measure different aspects of happiness. Bentham wanted to measure the intensity of pleasure, how powerful it is, the duration, how long it lasts, the certainty, how likely it is to result, the remoteness, how near or far it is, the purity, how secure is it, the extent, how many people will it
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