The Relationship Between Religion & Moral Values (2) Consequences & J S Mill (1806-1873) UTILITARIANISM
Origins Of Utilitarianism… • Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) argued for the Principle of Utility. • This simply means that and ACTION should be judged on the RESULTS it ACHIEVED. • This branch of ethics is called Utilitarianism. • Bentham argued that an action should only be judge on its ability to offer happiness to everyone involved, and pain and unhappiness should be avoided. • He believed everyone should be treated equally.
Origins Of Utilitarianism cont… • John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) • He developed Bentham’s theory further… • He believed that the EFFECTS of actions should also be taken into account where this knowledge would benefit the entire society. • Mill also did not believe that happiness was of equal status and he distinguished between higher and lower pleasures.
What is Utilitarianism? • It is a moral philosophy • It theorises that what is right is what produces the greatest good for the greatest number • Happiness therefore is a result of the common good for the majority • TASK 1: Think of TWO examples of utilitarianism and write these in your jotter.
Rule & Act Utilitarianism… • Rule utilitarianism: This is when a person would absolutely follow RULES when deciding what is in the best interest of the greater good If you stick to the rules rigidly this is STRONG UTILITARIANISM If the rules are more flexible this is know as WEAK UTILITARIANISM
Rule & Act Utilitarianism cont… • Act utilitarianism: This means you will make a decision on what the outcome of an action would be. If the action produces the maximum happiness for the majority then it is right. If it does not it is wrong. • Task 2: In pairs think of ONE scenario for each of the two types of utilitarianism. Report this back to class as well as record this in your jotter.
Consequentialism… • This theory is often referred to as consequentialism by utilitarianisms. Why do you think this is the case?
Consequentialism cont… • It is viewed as this term because it shows that a belief is right or wrong depending on the action or outcomes. • Utilitarianism is based on the result of ACTIONS… • Positive results = good • Negative results = bad
Consequentialism cont… • If an action benefits the majority BUT causes pain or suffering to a minority it can still be viewed as the RIGHT ACTION. • Read the dilemma on pages 17 of your core booklet and answer the following questions… • What would YOU do and WHY? • Is this the same as Utilitarianism? Give reasons to back up your answer.
Preference Utilitarianism… • This is a theory created by modern utilitarian • Takes into account what the people in the situation would prefer • It means viewing what their individual and collective happiness would be
Motive Utilitarianism… • This is a controversial view of utilitarianism as many utilitarian disagrees about it • Is an action right if it was done for the wrong reasons but has produced a good result benefiting the majority? • Read the dilemma from page 18 in your booklet and give a personal response to whether you think motive utilitarianism is right or wrong. Give reasons for your answer.
Modern utilitarianism… • Peter Singer (Prof of Bioethics at Princeton University USA) • Famous for utilitarian views relating to animal rights • He argues that mistreating animals does not produce the greatest good for the greatest number because the number of animals far outweighs the benefits of the mistreatment.
Modern utilitarianism cont… • Singer’s view is different from traditional utilitarianism… • He thinks that what is right is what is in the best interests of those involved in a moral problem. • Read Singer’s example of his theory in practice on pg 18 in your core booklet.
Modern utilitarianism cont 2… • Singer goes on to use the example of anencephalic babies. He believed they should not be kept alive when there is no brain activity as they are stopping other from receiving their organs? • Task 4: Do you agree with this view of Singer’s? Give TWO reasons to support your answer.
Modern utilitarianism cont 3… • Singer believes we should reassess the value of life and redefine what it means to be ‘alive’ and ‘dead’ using utilitarian ethics to see what benefits all those involved.
Modern utilitarianism cont 4 • Singer does define ‘those involved’ on a greater scale. It is not just the immediate people involved but the whole of society. • Apply the theory of Singer in relation to the baby boy Andrew. How do you think his death would have benefited the whole of society? Give TWO reasons for your answer.
Modern utilitarianism cont 5 • Read Singer’s list of ‘old’ and ‘new’ commandments (Core book page 19). • Task 5: Do you agree with Singer’s view of the utilitarian commandments? Give TWO reasons for your answer.
Problems with Singer… • Many disagree with Singer because they follow an ethic of unchangeable principles (Rule Utilitarian) • Singer appears to make it up as he goes along • Who decided what is in the interests for others? • Ultimately you may still be harming others (minorities) People still suffer so is this theory right? • Task 6: So far you have studied TWO theories. Give a clear personal opinion on what YOU think about Virtue Ethics and Utilitarianism
General strengths and weakness of utilitarianism… STRENGTHS: • Based on clear principles • Based on a common sense idea that society as a whole should benefit from actions • It is a fair and natural way of deciding what is best for all • It allows human freedom in decision making and does not require a set of beliefs to support it • It is democratic, everyone has an equal say • It is natural to think of consequences when you do something
General strengths and weakness of utilitarianism cont… WEAKNESSES: • Relies on predicting consequences which could be wrong • How do you measure pleasure and pain • Pain can be beneficial and pain can be harmful • No clear definition of what constitutes happiness • Protection of minorities who might be suffering • Can permit immoral acts e.g. slavery • Quality and quantity of good may be unclear, then what? • Does not take account of motives – is a bad motive with a good result a moral act? • Principles of justice for all need not be adhered to
Tasks… • Read pages 16-21 from your core blue booklet • Briefly outline who Bentham and Mill were and what they contributed to the development of utilitarianism. • In your own words, explain how a utilitarian might make a moral decision. • Explain the similarities and differences between the two different forms of utilitarianism (Act and rule) • What problems might there be in working out what will result in the ‘maximisation of happiness’? • When making a moral decision, do you think the motives are more or less important than outcomes? • In what ways does Peter Singer’s utilitarianism differ from that of JS Mill? • Do you think Singer’s ‘new commandments’ are better than the old ones? Explain your answer.
Tasks cont… 9. In what different ways might Utilitarians respond to the possibilities of the Bright Light Energy Company? 10. Choose one of the moral dilemmas you have read about or make one up. How do you think a utilitarian would respond to the dilemma, and explain whether or not you think this would be the right course of action in those circumstances. 11. Draw a table in your jotter and outline the strengths and weaknesses of utilitarianism 12. Do you think this theory is a good theory for making moral decisions? Give at least TWO reasons for you answer. Extension: Read pages 29-33 from ‘Morality In The Modern World’ by Joe Walker. Answer questions 1-8.
Homework…EXAM REVISION QUESTIONS Below is the Area 1 exam questions from 2007 Paper 1 and other additional revision questions. You now have enough knowledge to answer these. Look at how many marks are being asked for when answering the questions: • Describe the Euthyphro dilemma (4KU marks) • What is moral autonomy? (2 KU marks) • What is moral heteronomy? (2 KU marks) • How are sacred writings used as a source of moral understanding? (4 KU marks) • What is the Golden Rule? (2KU marks) • What are the key features of utilitarian ethics? (4 KU marks)