Utilitarianism Essay examples

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This essay will present the key features of Utilitarianism and identify the problems of Utilitarianism to the extent to which they make Utilitarianism unacceptable.

Jeremy Bentham founded Utilitarianism. He lived at a time of great change. With revolutions in France and America, demands were being made for human rights and greater democracy. Bentham worked on legal reform. Utilitarianism is associated with the principle of utility. Utility means the amount of satisfaction or pleasure that somebody gains from consuming a commodity, product, or service, i.e.; useful.

The hedonic calculus, which is his system for measuring how good or bad a consequence is:

At the time Bentham put forward the theory it
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Louise does not want to have sex. James, Peter and Matthew rape Louise, as there are three of them and one of her.”

This is the greatest good for the greatest number of people; however it is an immoral action.

Bentham was an empiricist (the philosophical belief that all knowledge is derived from the experience of the senses), i.e.; food or sex. Bentham maintained that human beings

were motivated by their five senses and that humans would always seek pleasure and avoid pain at all costs.

To measure the pleasure he devised the hedonic calculus, which consisted of seven principles each of which could be given a numerical score. These consist of its intensity, duration, certainty or uncertainty, propinquity or remoteness, fecundity, purity and possibly wit. This should make it clear how beneficial the greatest good for the greatest number is.

An example could be “A car is on fire. Inside the car is a doctor with the cure to cancer and your own child and you can only save one.” Using the hedonic calculus you would save the doctor with the cure to cancer rather than saving your own child. This is the greatest good for the greatest number of people, even though it is not the greatest for the individual and family.

However, while John Stuart Mill agrees with Bentham's fundamental principles and approves of his method he maintains that the

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