Summary of Utilitarianism

596 Words3 Pages
Summary of Utilitarianism Utilitarianism is a teleological theory as it looks at the consequences which also makes it a consequentialist theory. It focuses on the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Jeremy Bentham, one of the main ethicists that who believed in utilitarianism, believed that happiness is the greatest good. He defined happiness as pleasure minus pain. John Stuart Mill was a hedonist and accepted that happiness was of great importance and stressed that happiness is more important than pleasure. Mill believed that the quality of pleasure decides on whether an act is good; for example, human pleasures such as reading are what is good however animal pleasures such as eating is not as good. This meant that he felt that the quantity of pleasure did not matter, it was only the quality. Mill continues to develop his argument by saying that everyone deserves happiness so therefore, everyone aims towards their own happiness so everyone should aim for the happiness of everyone. He believed in universalizability which means what is right or wrong for one person in a situation is right or wrong for everyone. He feels positively towards human nature and believes that everyone is a good person so can empathise with others. Another important utilitarian was Henry Sidgwick. He felt that moral actions are not judged by their consequences but also how they benefit the welfare of people. This just means that the act is correct as long as it brings happiness to the greatest amount of people. Sidgwick and Bentham believed in similar views and are seen as act utilitarians. Act utilitarianism is when you have to decide what action would bring about the greatest good so it depends on the consequences of the action so the rightness or wrongness of something can be changed. Rule utilitarianism believes that rules should be created by using utilitarian principles
Open Document