Utilitarianism the international journal of ethics. While there is wide variation in utilitarian approaches to ethics, they are united by their. The aim of ethical theories is, among other things, to present and defend systematic answers to the two following questions. This is the correct sequence if the topic is legal theory as harts was, but. And in fact, aspects of utilitarianism can look very hard to resist. Utilitarianism an introduction to the moral theories of jeremy bentham and john stuart mill. This companion offers a systematic exploration of its history,themes,andapplications. It is the only moral framework that can be used to justify military force or war. A defense of a utilitarian approach to business ethics, written for business ethics. Theories of ethics center for future consciousness. It went through four editions during mills lifetime with minor additions and revisions.
Utilitarianism also faces the problem of partiality. A philosophy that bases the moral worth of an action upon the number of people it gives happiness or pleasure to. One of the most influential ethical frameworks, utilitarianism is focused on consequences and results. I unlike consequentialism, it is highly unsituational. In describing economic analysis of law as inspired by utilitarianism, h. Thus mills defence of utilitarianism involves showing not simply that utility is a principle, but that it is the sole ultimate principle of morality. Utilitarianism, kantian ethics, natural rights theories, and religious ethics a utilitarian argument, in the strict sense, is one what alleges that we ought to do something because it will produce more total happiness than doing anything else would. The changing status of utilitarianism in environmental ethics utilitarianism, in its most traditional form, is both a theory of the good and a theory of the right. At this point the argument over whether morality is based on reason or on feelings was temporarily exhausted, and the focus of british ethics shifted from such questions about the nature of morality as a whole to an inquiry into which actions are right and which are wrong. Utilitarianism as an ethical theory journal of ethics in mental. Utilitarianism provided a way of determining the total amount of utility or value a proposal would produce relative to the harm or pain that might result for society. A theory of ethical behavior, utilitarianism holds that an action is right to the extent that it benefits people or society, either by creating happiness, improving wellbeing, or reducing suffering. It holds that the greatest good is happiness and freedom from pain and suffering. Hence, it seems to me that absolutist theories of ethics are all inherently.
To determine the moral status of an action, utilitarianism has us look at c, deontology b, and virtue theory a. It is true that similar confusion and uncertainty, and in some cases similar discordance, exist respecting the first principles of all the sciences, not excepting that which is deemed the most certain of them. The term utilitarianism is, at the present day, in common use, and is supposed to designate a doctrine or method with which we are all familiar. The essay first appeared as a series of three articles published in frasers magazine in 1861. Largely owing to mill, utilitarianism rapidly became the dominant ethical theory in angloamerican philosophy. Much of the defense of utilitarian ethics has consisted in answering these objections, either by showing that utilitarianism does not have the implications that its opponents claim it has or by arguing against the opponents moral intuitions. Consequently, we can judge an absolutist theory of ethics as. The history of utilitarianism stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Utilitarianism consequencebased ethics learning theories. Utilitarianism i the most common form of consequentialism is utilitarianism i utilitarianism combines consequentialism with the claim that the only valuable consequence is pleasure, and the only disvaluable consequence is pain. The ethical theory of utilitarianism philosophy essay.
It is true that similar confusion and uncertainty, and in some cases. At work, utilitarianism is displayed by working to make sure the workplace is a positive environment for your coworkers to be in, and then make it so for yourself. Pdf this essay develops the theoretical foundations and framework of a defensible ethical theory for medical ethics and the whole of life. As is pointed out in section 10, however, the individual welfare functions which ought to be added have a very di. Utilitarianism is a consequentialist theory in that it is concerned with the consequences of the moral judgment, the outcome of the costbenefit analysis. John stuart mill believed in an ethical theory known as utilitarianism and his theory is based on the principle of giving the greatest happiness to greatest number of.
Though not fully articulated until the 19th century, protoutilitarian positions can be discerned throughout the history of ethical theory. There are three major categories of ethical systems that students typically learn about in philosophy classes. Utilitarian ethics would show us murdering the homeless and dispossessed provides us a steady stream of donor organs. John stuart mills book utilitarianism is a philosophical defense of utilitarianism in ethics. Utilitarianism, kantian ethics, natural rights theories. Utilitarianism, as a consequentialist theory, ignores intentions and focuses only on consequences. Consequentialism stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Personal integrity p1 if utilitarianism is true, then jim is morally obligated to kill the one native himself. Hart was suggesting that utilitarianism preceded economics. What matters for virtue theory, more specifically, is the character of the agent.
Mills more important contributions to ethics occur in utilitarianism 1863, from frasers magazine, 1861, bentham 1838, coleridge 1840, dr whewell on moral philosophy 1852, professor sedgwicks discourse on the studies of the university of cambridge 1835, and in the brief discussion in the system of logic, bk vi, chap. Utilitarianism an ethical theory according to which the rightness and wrongness of acts depends entirely on facts about the maximization of overall wellbeing. Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics, or the ethics that define the morality of actions, as proposed by jeremy bentham and john stuart mill. I we can give an easy model of the value of an action.
Mills utilitarianism remains the most famous defense of the utilitarian view ever written and is still widely assigned in university ethics courses around the world. For example, suppose your friend is struggling in 8. Ethical theories two types of ethical theories i teleological theories value based theories an act is morally right if it promotes the good or what has value. I some utilitarians even allow for there to be quanti able units of pain and pleasure. Principles are general rules of conduct that emerge or derive from an ethical theory. In its simplest form utilitarianism is a theory that says that you should decide what you do in order to provide the most happiness and the least pain in a situation it is therefore hedonistic it is centred around pleasure as you look at all the different possible outcomes of a situation to see where pleasure and pain will be balanced the best, it is consequentialist or teleological. Utilitarianism consequencebased ethics 1 year ago ethical theories and frameworks 0 one of the most influential ethical frameworks, utilitarianism is focused on consequences and results. Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that determines right from wrong by focusing on outcomes.
Consequentialist decision theory and utilitarian ethics. The theory of utilitarianism essay 530 words bartleby. Download utilitarianism john stuart mill pdf genial. The theory of utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism 952 words 4 pages. That, for me, counts heavily in favor of it as a moral theory. This is clear if we consider the familiar moral dilemma of being stuck on a life raft with three other people but with only enough supplies for. P2 jim is not morally obligated to kill the one native himself. When applying this concept to the consequentialist theory of utilitarianism, it is important to first examine the difference between act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism.
Utilitarianism, by john stuart mill the selfdevelopment of the individual in his in. This article was published in the international journal of ethics 18901938, which is continued by ethics 1938present. But on closer examination, it appears to be applied to several distinct theories, having no necessary connexion with one. This paper, which is to be published as a chapter in the handbook of social choice and welfare, provides a survey of utilitarianism as a theory of justice. This principle is mainly associated with the utilitarian ethical theory discussed later in this set of notes. The fact that people value the happiness of those close to them more than that of strangers makes utilitarianism personally unacceptable to many, but it may still be a proper principle for government, given some.
Mills more important contributions to ethics occur in. Maximization the view that the value of a state of affairs should be made as great as possible. Traces of utilitarian thought can be found in the works of plato and aristotle, but not until the eighteenth century did utilitarianism truly begin to emerge as a welldefined and freestanding ethical theory. The purpose of this article is to explain different ethical theories and compare and contrast them in a way thats clear and easy for students to understand. The utilitarian principle we all know, by now, the difference between an ethical theory, and an ethical principle, right the theory defines the basic ethical terms, and provides the most general ways of interpreting ethical experience, obligations, the role of reason, etc. Of recent years normative ethics has become distinguished from metaethics. Pdf utilitarianism and business ethics in business. Some utilitarians, however, have sought to modify the utilitarian theory to account for the objections. Utilitarianism holds that the most ethical choice is the one that will produce the greatest good for the greatest number. Moore produced, as a result of philosophical reflection, systems of normative ethics. A philosophical approach edited by werhane and donaldson. Utilitarian ethics were to be the blueprints for social justice, and utilitarianism is habitually considered the starting point of contemporary moral philosophy. Todays session will focus on utilitarianism and the next on tuesday, 4th october will look at deontology.
First,ittracestheorigins and development of utilitarianism via the work of jeremy. The work from which our reading is taken, utilitarianism, deepens and strengthens the greatest happiness principle of jeremy bentham and his. Utilitarianism, as a family of philosophical theories, has been the most powerful and. Act utilitarianism au is the moral theory that holds that the morally right action, the act. A normative ethical theory also referred to as moral theory is a systematic conception of what, morally, we should and should not do, both. Utilitarianism in the workplace focuses on ethics, democracy, rights and responsibilities within the business. Utilitarianism is an ethical theory according to which the rightness and wrongness of acts depends entirely on facts about the maximization of overall wellbeing. Utilitarianism is a comprehensive doctrine claiming that the greatest amount of happiness is an end that should exclusively guide all actions of both government and individuals. That fact makes classic utilitarianism a more complex theory than it might appear at first sight.1068 847 30 901 34 104 1471 1318 698 1270 870 1328 1146 667 1053 1514 982 1052 159 444 159 793 981 508 547 1464 1401