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Moral Theories: Utilitarianism

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Moral Theories: Utilitarianism Consequentialism Right or wrong depends on result or consequence of an action. Good result right Bad consequence wrong ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Moral Theories: Utilitarianism


1
Applied Ethics
  • Moral Theories Utilitarianism

2
Consequentialism
  • Right or wrong depends on result or consequence
    of an action.
  • Good resultright
  • Bad consequencewrong

3
  • Consequentialism
  • Egoism Altruism
  • Utilitarianism

4
Utilitarianism
  • Classical utilitarianism
  • Hedonism Pleasure-ism
  • Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)
  • John Stuart Mill (1806-73)

5
Utilitarianism
  • We seek happiness and avoid pain.
  • Happiness or pleasure is the only good in itself
  • Pain or unhappiness is intrinsically bad or evil.

6
Utility
  • By utility is meantbenefit, advantage,
    pleasure, good, or happiness or to prevent the
    happening of pain, evil or unhappiness to the
    party whose interest is considered if that party
    be the community in general, then the happiness
    of the community if a particular individual,
    then the happiness of that individual.

7
  • Nature has placed mankind under the
    governance of two sovereign masters, pain and
    pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what
    we ought to do,the standard of right and wrong.

8
Principle of utility
  • Always act to produce greatest happiness for the
    greatest number of people.

9
Benthams utility-calculus
  • Seven attributes that help to calculate pleasure
    or pain
  • Intensity magnitude of the experience

10
Benthams utility-calculus
  • Duration how long the experience lasts
  • Certainty probability it will actually happen

11
Benthams utility-calculus
  • Propinquity how close the experience is in space
    and time
  • Fecundity its ability to produce more experience
    of the same kind

12
Benthams utility-calculus
  • Purity extent to which pleasure is not diluted
    by pain, or vice versa
  • Extent number of people affected.

13
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14
Simple utility-calculation
  • Everyone counts as one, no one counts as more
    than one.
  • Each persons happiness is equally important
  • no ones happiness is to be counted as more
    important than anyone elses.

15
Utilitarianism
  • (1) Consider the various actions or alternatives
    open to you

16
Utilitarianism
  • (2)Taking into account all the persons affected,
    calculate the pleasures and pains involved

17
Utilitarianism
  • (3) Choose that action which will result in the
    greatest balance of pleasure over pain.

18
Cases
  1. Should I give you a blow?
  2. Picking a flower from public garden for your
    girl-friend?

19
Cases
  • 3. Five dying young men and a healthy young man
    in hospital.
  • 4. Is lying always wrong?

20
J.S. Mill
  • Consider quality as well as quantity in the
    estimation of pleasures.
  • Higher and lower pleasures
  • The superiority of mental over bodily pleasures,

21
J. S. Mill
  • Some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and
    more valuable than othersutilitarian writers in
    general have placed the superiority of mental
    over bodily pleasures.

22
J. S. Mill
  • It is better to be a human being dissatisfied
    than a pig satisfied better to be Socrates
    dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.

23
Ideal utilitarianism
  • Not only happiness or pleasure is intrinsically
    good
  • Love, knowledge, beauty, friendship, etc.

24
Ideal utilitarianism
  • Rightness of an action depends on maximizing the
    amount of these intrinsic goods.

25
Act-utilitarianism (AU)
  • 1. Look at the consequence of a particular
    action.
  • 2. The principle of utility is applied to
    individual action.

26
Act-utilitarianism (AU)
  • 3. Total happiness gt over unhappinessthe action
    is right
  • Total unhappiness gt happinessit is wrong.

27
Rule-utilitarianism (RU)
  • 1. Look at the consequence of a rule.
  • 2. Principle of utility is applied to a rule.

28
Rule-utilitarianism (RU)
  • 3. If everyone following the rule could produce
    good consequence, then we should abide by that
    rulea right rule.
  • 4. The rule is then applied to a particular act.

29
RU
  • Killing my rich uncle, right or wrong?
  • Wrong, because it violates the moral rule
    against killing.
  • We should follow the moral rule against
    killing because everyone following the rule could
    produce greatest happiness for the greatest
    number of people.

30
  • How AU and RU judge these cases
  • Should I give you a blow?
  • Picking a flower from public garden for your
    girl-friend?
  • Five dying young men and a healthy young man in
    hospital.

31
How AU and RU judge?
  • Mary is considering whether to keep or break her
    promise to go out with David. She believes that
    if she breaks the promise in order to do
    something else with some other friends, David
    will be unhappy, but Mary and the other friends
    will be happier.

32
Criticisms against U-ism
  • 1. Difficult to calculate or measure a persons
    happiness or pain.

33
Criticisms against U-ism
  • 2. Utilitarian judgments are often in
    contradiction with our moral intuition or
    common-sense morality.

34
Criticisms against U-ism
  • 3. Utility is often in conflict with justice.

35
Criticisms against U-ism
  • 4. The demand of utility violates an individuals
    rights.

36
Criticisms against U-ism
  • 5. Forward-looking morality, not
    backward-looking, inadequate.

37
  • THE END
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