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Identify and explain the central principles of Utilitarianism as outlined by Bentham Jeremy Bentham became interested in ethics at the age of twenty one and wondered if it was possible to make a universal moral code of conduct to improve the life in the nineteenth century. He believed that this principle of utility should be applied to all areas of social life so that actions would benefit or bring happiness to the majority, thereby making a theory known as utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is a teleological theory which involves looking at the future effects or consequences of an action, which therefore implies whether it is right or wrong, thus the action and motives are not important. This means that an action should be chosen because it creates the right consequences and not the wrong. Some consequences are intrinsically good which would make the actions only good in an instrumental way. Hedonism refers to the idea that naturally everybody experiences pleasure or pain and helps to understand whether a consequence is intrinsically good or not. It claims that pleasure should be maximised as it is intrinsically good where as pain is intrinsically bad and therefore should be minimised, thus the right action to take is that which produces the most amount of pleasure and the least amount of pain. In addition to this the principle of Utility judges an action by how useful it is in bringing about good consequences and not bad ones, again reinforcing which is the right action to take. It involves aiming to gain the greatest amount of happiness and identifies whose pleasure should be maximised in each situation. Everyone’s happiness should be taken into consideration equally, therefore an action is good if it produces the effect that the majority of people’s happiness is maximised within a situation, even if this means you will suffer. As Bentham
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