Explain Utilitarianism Essay

790 Words4 Pages
Explain the meaning and importance of each of the following in the theory of utilitarianism: * The greatest happiness theory * The consequences of actions Utilitarianism means the most the happiness for the most people. The theory was devised by the philosopher Jeremy Bentham who lived at a time of great scientific and social change. Bentham worked on legal reform and wrote the Principles of Morals and Legislation, in which he put forward his ethical theory. We can divide this theory into three part. Motivation, what drove human beings. The principle of utility, which was his moral rule and the hedonic calculus which was a system used to measure how good or a bad a consequence was. Bentham established that pleasure and pain were the important qualities for determining what was moral, he developed the utility principle. The rightness and wrongness of an action is detrimned by its ‘utility’ or usefulness. Usefulness refers to the amount of pleasure or happiness caused by an action-hence its theological ethical theory which determines a good act by the ends it brings about. The theory is best known as the greatest happiness principle. Bentham stated ‘an action is right if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number’ where the greatest good is the greatest pleasure or happiness and the least pain or sadness, and the greatest number are the majority of people. Good is the maximisation of pleasure and the minimisation of pain. This theory can be applied in fact both to animals and humans and each individual is equal. When faced with a moral dilemma, Bentham argued that one should choose to act in such a way that brings about the maximum possible happiness for the most people. However, the possible consequences of different possible actions must be measured clearly to establish which option brings generates the most pleasure and least pain.
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