Presentation on theme: "L ECTURE 24: U TILITARIANISM. T WO TYPES OF ETHICAL THEORY Ethics Teleological Deontological Emphasises duty or the inherent moral value of an action,"— Presentation transcript:
L ECTURE 24: U TILITARIANISM
T WO TYPES OF ETHICAL THEORY Ethics Teleological Deontological Emphasises duty or the inherent moral value of an action, not the consequences. The moral value of an action is entirely based on its results or consequences All ethical theories fall under one or both of these categories
U TILITARIANISM General features of Utilitiarianism Utilitarianism is a teleological ethical theory, this means: o Moral and immoral actions are distinguished by their results and consequences alone o Utilitarianism makes no appeal to the motives or inherent value of an action There are three ‘stages’ within Utilitarianism: 1.“The doctrine that we ought to act so as to promote the greatest balance of good over evil” (p.375) 2.“The doctrine that we ought to act so as to promote the greatest balance of pleasure over pain” (p.375) 3.“The doctrine that we ought to act so as to promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number” (p.376)
U TILITARIANISM The principle of utility states: “The greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people” Moral actions are those that bring the greatest amount of happiness to other people Happiness and a lack of pain is the only valid criteria for a measure of moral value A Utilitarian must ask two questions: How happy? and How many? Allows one to sacrifice their own or individual interests for the sake of others For example: Can we sacrifice one to save many?
U TILITARIANISM Why happiness? The principle of utility does not state: “The greater good for the greater number of people” Why is happiness a better criterion for a moral action than the “good”? For example, Why should we be so concerned about happiness? Isn’t it the case that some people need what is good for them, not what makes them happy? What is wrong with using happiness as a criterion?
V ERSION 1: B ENTHAM
B ENTHAM Bentham’s utilitarianism o Bentham assumes that human’s are motivated by the desire to attain pleasure and to avoid of pain (hedonism) o Our faculty of reason means that we can discuss and give advice as to the best way to pursue our goal to achieve the most pleasure while avoiding the most pain o The value of a moral action is based on its consequences in accordance with our desired goals A moral action is one that brings the most pleasure and the least pain An immoral action is one that brings more pain and less pleasure o The only relevant factor is the quantity of happiness
B ENTHAM Bentham employs the “Calculus of Felicity” as a guide to calculating the moral worth of an action: 1.Intensity—How Intense? 2.Duration—How Long? 3.Certainty—How Sure? 4.Propinquity—how soon? 5.Fecundity—how many more? 6.Purity—How Free From Pain? 7.Extent—How Many People are affected? Textbook P.377
V ERSION 2: M ILL ’ S U TILITARIANISM
M ILL ’ S C RITICISM OF B ENTHAM Bentham claims: All pleasures are equal For example, the pleasure from scratching an itch might be just as good as the pleasure from reading a good book The calculus of felicity can only calculate pleasures based on quantity Mill’s criticism: If all pleasures are seen to be equal, and only quantity matters, everyone would end up going for easy pleasures; culture would be lost
M ILL ’ S S OLUTION Mill proposes the following solution: Pleasures should be divided between higher and lower pleasures Higher desires, even if they are more difficult to attain, are to be preferred over lower desires because their quality is superior to lower desires, no matter the quantity Is this a form of cultural fascism? Lower Desires (Quantity) Scratching an Itch Eating Lots of Food Getting Drunk on Beer Higher Desires (Quality) Listening to Classical Music Going to an Art Gallery Drinking a Glass of Fine Wine Reading a Good Book
T ESTING U TILITARIANISM
E VALUATION OF U TILITARIANISM Action: Giving Candy to my Students Candy is given to students Students enjoy Candy Consequences: More Students are happier Action: Giving Candy to my Students Candy is given to students Candy makes students sick Consequences: More students are unhappy Action: Students are executed for failure 1% of Students are executed 99% of Students do very well Consequences: More Students are happier What moral value would Utilitarians place on the following actions: Action: Sacrificing One Individual to Save Many Aliens Demand Human Sacrifice Paul Harris is Sacrificed Consequences: The Earth is Saved; Everyone is Happier
E VALUATION OF U TILITARIANISM Problems for Utilitarianism: The case of Sam Sam goes to the hospital for a routine visit The doctor realizes that Sam’s healthy organs could be used to save the lives of five other patients Option 1: The doctor can let Sam live but five other patients will die Option 2: The doctor arranges for Sam to die so that he can save his five other patients Which option should a Utilitarian choose? Why is this a problem for Utilitarianism?
E VALUATION OF U TILITARIANISM Problems for Utilitarianism: Jim and the Indians Read the box on p.390 of the textbook Given this situation, what should Jim do according to Utilitarinism? What would you do? What does this show about Utilitarianism?
E VALUATION OF U TILITARIANISM Are the following moral or immoral according to Utilitarianism? MurderLyingStealing Cheating in exams Invading foreign nations Slavery Oppressing women In all cases the moral value depends on: 1)How much happiness is generated 2)How many people it affects
A CT & R ULE U TILITARIANISM
A CT AND R ULE U TILITARIANISM Textbook p.380. Act UtilitarianismRule Utilitarianism The most moral act is the one that produces the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people When choosing between two acts, one ought to choose the one governed by a (hypothetical) rule whose general obedience would produce the greatest amount of happiness Contemporary Utilitarian’s distinguish between two forms of Utilitarianism: Why might this distinction improve Utilitarianism? Why might this be a problem for Utilitarianism?
E VALUATION OF U TILITARIANISM Are the following moral or immoral according to Rule-Utilitarianism? MurderLyingStealing Cheating in exams Invading foreign nations Slavery Oppressing women According to rule-utilitarianism the morality of each case depends on: 1)How much happiness would be generated 2)How many people it affects If everyone did these things
1.What is the principle of Utility? 2.Is the principle of utility an appropriate way to distinguish between moral and immoral actions? 3.Is utilitarianism better suited to some situations over others? 4.What are the problems with Utilitarianism? 5.Does the distinction between rule and act Utilitarianism improve Utilitarianism?