Philosophy essays on utilitarianism

Brandt developed and defended rule utilitarianism in many papers. In a famous article, Peter Singer defends the view that people living in affluent countries should not purchase luxury items for themselves when the world is full of impoverished people.

The Bobbs-Merrill Company, But in a letter to John Venn Mill claims that the moral status of an individual action depends on the utility of its consequences; considerations about the utility of a general class of actions are just defeasible evidence about what is true in particular cases CW XVII: Brandt developed and defended rule utilitarianism in many papers.

According to this perspective, we should judge the morality of individual actions by reference to general moral rules, and we should judge particular moral rules by seeing whether their acceptance into our moral code would produce more well-being than other possible rules.

That would involve a compositional fallacy. Likewise, on the negative side, a lack of food, friends, or freedom is instrumentally bad because it produces pain, suffering, and unhappiness; but pain, suffering and unhappiness are intrinsically bad, i.

Possible Responses to Criticisms of Act Utilitarianism There are two ways in which act utilitarians can defend their view against these criticisms. There are two reasons that show why it is false.

All other things have only extrinsic value; they have value just insofar as they bring about, mediately or directly, intrinsic value or disvalue.

More personal leeway could also be allowed by deploying the legal notion of proximate causation.

Philosophy: Utilitarianism (John Stuart Mill)

Mill contends, however, that on reflection we will see that when we appear to value them for their own sakes we are actually valuing them as parts of happiness rather than as intrinsically desirable on their own or as means to happiness. Pluralism about values also enables consequentialists to handle many of the problems that plague hedonistic utilitarianism.

For some, this may be the biggest worry about censorship. An axiom is a sentence that counts as always true within the system. This view of logic appears radically distinct from the first: She would not have killed her husband if I had given her spoons instead of knives.

Critics claim that the argument for using our money to help impoverished strangers rather than benefiting ourselves and people we care about only proves one thing—that act utilitarianism is false.


If a person makes a promise but breaking the promise will allow that person to perform an action that creates just slightly more well-being than keeping the promise will, then act utilitarianism implies that the promise should be broken.

The religious utilitarians looked to the Christian God to address a basic problem, namely how to harmonize the interests of individuals, who are motivated by their own happiness, with the interests of the society as a whole. All of the theorems of a system that has no axioms are its truths and sometimes the truths of such a system are called 'logical truths.


Utilitarianism is often called a godless doctrine because its moral foundation is the human happiness and not the will of God. Thus, on this view, it is not always morally wrong to fail to do what one morally ought to do.

Justifications of moral rules, he claims, must be strictly impartial. Because this account of duty defines the rightness and wrongness of an act, not in terms of its utility, as act utilitarianism does, but in terms of the utility of applying sanctions to the conduct, it is an indirect form of utilitarianism.

Or I might prefer to torture children.

Act and Rule Utilitarianism

Sen, Amartya, and Bernard Williams, eds. One would think that the aim is to make claims that parallel 4 and 5. In particular, Mill shared concerns with others e.

Mill's Moral and Political Philosophy

They stress the difference between evaluating actions and evaluating the people who perform them. 1. Classic Utilitarianism. The paradigm case of consequentialism is utilitarianism, whose classic proponents were Jeremy Bentham (), John Stuart Mill (), and Henry Sidgwick ().

Utilitarianism is one of the most powerful and persuasive approaches to normative ethics in the history of philosophy.

The Greater Good; an Essay on Utilitarianism

Though not fully articulated until the 19 th century, proto-utilitarian positions can be discerned throughout the history of ethical theory. John Stuart Mill’s most famous essays written in The essay advocates a more complex version of utilitarianism that takes into account the many arguments, misconceptions, and criticisms many people have about the view of morality many have.

Analysing Utilitarianism By John Stuart Mill Philosophy Essay. Print Reference this. Mill continues and states that utilitarianism, or the greatest happiness principle as Bentham called it, is the cause in forming moral doctrines and keeping them stable and solid over the years.

Philosophy Essay Writing Service Free Essays More. 'it is only the cultivation of individuality which produces, or can produce, well developed human beings' Mill's four essays, 'On Liberty', 'Utilitarianism', 'Considerations on Representative Government', and 'The Subjection of Women' examine the most central issues that face liberal democratic regimes - whether in the nineteenth century or the twenty-first.

Logic, from Classical Greek λόγος (), originally meaning the word, but also referring to speech or reason is the science that evaluates reasoning within arguments.

Philosophy essays on utilitarianism
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Mill, John Stuart | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy