Essay on Utilitarianism

1264 Words 6 Pages

There are many essays, papers and books written on the concept of right and wrong. Philosophers have theorized about moral actions for eons, one such philosopher is John Stuart Mill. In his book Utilitarianism he tries to improve on the theories of utilitarianism from previous philosophers, as he is a strong believer himself in the theory. In Mill's book he presents the ideology that there is another branch on the utilitarian tree. This branch being called rule-utilitarianism. Mill makes a distinction between two different types of utilitarianism; act-utilitarianism and rule-utilitarianism. Rule-utilitarianism seems like a major advance over the simple theory of act-utilitarianism. But for all its added complexity, it
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In the instance when an individual steals from another individual for his/her own self-happiness, others in society cannot deem this to be justifiable, even if it may be more beneficial to the thief to steal. Act-utilitarianism does not guarantee the protection to the victim of theft in this example because, it's more focused on the greatest happiness and not on the consequences for others' happiness. The greatest happiness may be given to either person in this situation depending on 'the stories' of each (i.e. the reason for thief). Therefore, the idea of right seems not to be absolute. Mill however, recognizes this as a problem and introduces the theory of rule-utilitarianism to compensate. Instead of looking at the consequences of a particular act, rule-utilitarianism determines the rightness of an act by an alternative mean. That mean consists of first finding the best rule of conduct, this is done by finding the values of the consequences that follow a particular rule; The best rule is the rule, which has the greatest overall result of any given action. Hence, one must follow the actual rules of one's society. To illustrate, 'one ought not to steal' because it is societies laws. Solving the issue of not recognizing the victims happiness due to the fact, according to Mill, that these laws are based on morally right objectives. However, rule-utilitarianism is just an impotent way around the problem presented by the simple
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