Key Features of Utilitarianism

881 Words Dec 4th, 2012 4 Pages
Key Features of utilitarianism and its weaknesses.

The Theory of Utilitarianism comes from its name from the Latin word ‘Utilis’, meaning ‘useful’. It was first developed by Jeremy Bentham, Philosopher and legal theorist of the 18th century. Bentham produced a modern approach of morality which would suit the changing world of the industrial age. This was also the era of enlightenment. Utilitarianism can be regarded as a consequentialist and teleological system of ethics, providing no strict moral rules but judging an action by its consequence or end result.

Bentham believed in Francis Hutcheson’s belief which is known as the utility principle (the greatest good for the greatest number)and argued that one should maximise happiness for
…show more content…
Another key difference between Bentham and mill lies in the difference between act and rule theories of utilitarianism. Bentham proposed the act of utilitarian approach, meaning he treating each individual action separately, without any rules to guide the person. Mill on the other hand proposed the one people should make rules based upon the consequences which tend to follow from certain actions. So concluding the same underlying idea. We can see the mill and Bentham shows two very different approaches to morality.

The strengths and weaknesses of Utilitarianism vary between different versions of the theory. The advantages of Act utilitarianism is not the same as those of Mills. As Mills was very different from Bentham’s. Overall the strengths of both forms are outweighed by their weaknesses.

The main strength for this theory is that it is always looking for the greatest good for the greatest number. This means that the majority will always benefit. This is a good strength as it is a system that looks to maximise pleasure for the greatest number. The fact that it is consequentialism is also strength as when we act it is only natural to weigh up the consequences. Utilitarianism’s acceptance of the universal principle is essential for any ethical system. It is important to go beyond your own personal point or view. The idea of promoting the well-being of the greatest number is also…