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Utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

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Presentation on theme: "Utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)"— Presentation transcript:

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2 Utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham ( ) John Stuart Mill ( )

3 Utilitarianism The ultimate moral principle is the Principle of Utility: The right thing to do, in any situation, is whatever would produce the best overall outcome for all those who will be affected by your action.

4 Utilitarianism “The greatest happiness for the greatest number” 1.The right thing to do is whatever would have the best overall consequences. 2.Which consequences matter? What’s important is human welfare—we want people to be as well-off as possible. 3.Each person’s welfare is equally important.

5 Utilitarianism 1.Abolition of slavery; equal rights for women; abolition of child labor Some practical implications:

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7 Utilitarianism 1.Abolition of slavery; equal rights for women and minorities; abolition of child labor 2.Prison reform: deterrence and rehabilitation, not vengeance Some practical implications:

8 Three ways of responding to crime: Retribution Deterrence Rehabilitation

9 Retribution Pay the S.O.B. back for his wicked deeds. Why? Because he deserves it.

10 Deterrence

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19 Attach penalties to certain sorts of actions.

20 Deterrence Why?

21 Deterrence So that people won’t do them.

22 Rehabilitation Provide education and other kinds of help Why? So that criminals will be changed into good citizens.

23 Consequences of Rehabilitationism Changes in nomenclature Indeterminate sentences Parole system Different punishments for different offenders

24 Utilitarianism 1.Abolition of slavery; equal rights for women and minorities; abolition of child labor 2.Prison reform: deterrence and rehabilitation, not vengeance 3.We have extensive charitable duties. Some practical implications:

25 Peter Singer is a utilitarian philosopher.

26 Utilitarianism 1.Abolition of slavery; equal rights for women and minorities; abolition of child labor 2.Prison reform: deterrence and rehabilitation, not vengeance 3.We have extensive charitable duties. 4.Mercy-killing can sometimes be permissible. Some practical implications:

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28 The Utilitarian argument for mercy-killing: 1.Any action that prevents suffering is morally acceptable, provided that it does not cause greater suffering somewhere else. 2.In some instances, providing a dying person with a quicker death, at his or her own request, will prevent considerable suffering, without causing anyone else to suffer. 3.Therefore, in at least some instances, mercy-killing is morally acceptable.

29 Utilitarianism 1.Abolition of slavery; equal rights for women and minorities; abolition of child labor 2.Prison reform: deterrence and rehabilitation, not vengeance 3.We have extensive charitable duties. 4.Mercy-killing can sometimes be permissible. 5.Animals count, too. Some practical implications:

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31 Human PainAnimal Pain Same amount of pain Same amount of moral concern =

32 1.We should not cause unnecessary pain and suffering. 2.In the modern meat-production business, animals are caused great suffering. 3.This isn’t necessary, because we could nourish ourselves without doing it. 4.Therefore, we should stop doing it. We should be vegetarians instead. The Utilitarian argument that we shouldn’t eat meat:


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