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UTILITARIANISM APPLIED TO ABORTION

BENTHAM AND MILL
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on 27 January 2015

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Transcript of UTILITARIANISM APPLIED TO ABORTION

UTILITARIANISM AND ABORTION
APPLIED ETHICS
AVOIDS:
BENTHAM
1. Does a woman have a 'right' to an abortion?
HEDONISTIC
PLEASURE AND PAIN
HEDONISTIC CALCULUS
ACTIVITY
Using the Calculus work out whether abortion is morally acceptable
APPLYING UTILITARIANISM TO ABORTION
There is no single view of abortion among utilitarians
they are divided in their understanding of how to apply the principle of utility
SHARED FUNDAMENTAL VIEWS
There is no absolute value placed on human life

The consequences of an action determine whether it should take place or not

Whatever benefits an action may have should be determined by how many people benefit
What do they have in common?
What problems in the abortion debate do utilitarians avoid?
2. Whether the woman alone should be considered as the moral agent
3. Because it is a secular ethic it also avoids the 'sanctity of life' issue
CLASSICAL ACT UTILITARIANISM
What should be taken into account?
How is a decision made?
There is no single view of abortion among utilitarians. This is because they are divided on how to apply the principle of utility
However there are some fundamental views that all utilitarians hold:
there is no absolute value placed on human life - avoids sanctity of life issues
the consequences of an action determine whether it should take place or not
whatever action takes place must benefit the maximum number
Utilitarians differ in what they mean by 'the greatest good'
Act Utilitarianism think in terms of happiness or pleasure
modern utilitarians think in terms of the maximisation of welfare. This means the general well being of society
Preference Utilitarians consider the preferences of all affected by the action
Weak Rule Utilitarians will draw up a general rule
Is there any value in having a 'general rule' about abortion?
Act utilitarians would judge each case on its own merits
Is it possible to consider long term consequences for society when acting this way?
The consequence is that each decision will be different
PETER SINGER
A modern preference Utilitarian who takes in to account the general good and the moral status of the foetus

PERSONHOOD
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