Utilitarianism in contemporary ethics

If somebody tries to do a bad thing on purpose but accidentally causes good, utilitarians would look upon the result as equal to a result that would have been caused by good intentions. A possible inference is, that one can not be blamed for mistaken judgments if the motivation was to do good.

Sidgwick was also a British philosopher, and his views developed out of and in response to those of Bentham and Mill. Naturally, nobody says that.

The History of Utilitarianism

Ethical egoism Ethical egoism can be understood as a consequentialist theory according to which the consequences for the individual agent are taken to matter more than any other result. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question… [31] Mill argues that if people who are "competently acquainted" with two pleasures show a decided preference for one even if it be accompanied by more discontent and "would not resign it for any quantity of the other", then it is legitimate to regard that pleasure as being superior in quality.

Going to a more extreme level, average utilitarianism advocates the removal of all people who are below average in happiness.


This seems to have been an innate sense of right and wrong, or moral beauty and deformity. It offers a defense of utilitarianism, though some writers Schneewind have argued that it should not primarily be read as a defense of utilitarianism. He is accused of committing the naturalistic fallacybecause he is trying to deduce what people ought to do from what they in fact do; the fallacy of equivocationbecause he moves from the fact that 1 something is desirable, i.

Moore further criticized the view that pleasure itself was an intrinsic good, since it failed a kind of isolation test that he proposed for intrinsic value. As a result, it could be argued that there is a moral imperative for an agent to inform himself as much as possible about a situation before judging the appropriate course of action.

Various theorists are split as to whether the rules are the only determinant of moral behavior or not. He suggests that it would have been a good thing if plant operators learned lessons that prevented future serious incidents.


This section does not cite any sources. Thus, an action that results in the greatest pleasure for the utility of society is the best action, or as Jeremy Bentham, the founder of early Utilitarianism put it, as the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

Moorewriting insaid: But this example seems to put all the emphasis on a consideration of consequences in moral approval and disapproval. In an introduction to an anthology of these articles, the editor was able to say: In moral evaluation the main concern is that of character.

In modern terminology, these are response-dependent properties, and lack objectivity in the sense that they do not exist independent of our responses. The pleasures of sadists, in virtue of their desires to harm others, get discounted — they are not good, even though they are pleasures.

Wendy Donner notes that separating virtue from right allows Mill to solve another problem for the theory: In short, motive utilitarianism considers the psychological state of humans when performing actions or wanting to perform actions. A law that is good at one point in time may be a bad law at some other point in time.

The conviction that, for example, some laws are bad resulted in analysis of why they were bad. A classic version of this criticism was given by H. If an act is vicious, its viciousness is a matter of the human response given a corrected perspective to the act or its perceived effects and thus has a kind of contingency that seems unsettling, certainly unsettling to those who opted for the theological option.

Extrapolating from the example used above, we have people who advocate telling the truth, or what they believe to be the truth, even if the effects are bad because the truth is somehow misused by others.

Mill, John Stuart, Nov 13,  · Modern utilitarianism is ethics based on logic and has helped many people decide how to live through its many modern utilitarian views.

Different Types of Modern Utilitarianism

Read on to find out all the different modern types of utilitarianism and how they could help ultimedescente.coms: 5. If you answered yes, you were probably using a form of moral reasoning called "utilitarianism." Stripped down to its essentials, utilitarianism is a moral principle that holds that the morally right course of action in any situation is the one that produces the greatest balance of benefits over.

Aimed at undergraduates, Contemporary Ethics presupposes little or no familiarity with ethics and is written in a clear and engaging style. It provides students with a sympathetic but critical guide to utilitarianism, explaining its /5(4). 1. State the Principle of Utility as formulated by Bentham and Mill and apply it to a particular action (e.

g., lying) to illustrate how it works. Utilitarianism definition, the ethical doctrine that virtue is based on utility, and that conduct should be directed toward promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of persons.

See more. Contemporary Examples. But here's what utilitarianism, according to Williams, leaves out of the picture: noun ethics. the doctrine that. Utilitarianism is one of the most powerful and persuasive approaches to normative ethics in the history of philosophy.

Though not fully articulated until the 19 th century, proto-utilitarian positions can be discerned throughout the history of ethical theory.

Utilitarianism in contemporary ethics
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