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Utilitarianism

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Mrs Durcan-Smith

on 30 October 2012

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Transcript of Utilitarianism

"The greatest happiness for the greatest number" Utilitarianism Know and understand what sort of ethical theory Utilitarianism is.
Know and understand who Jeremy Bentham was and his role in formulating Act Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism Utilitarianism is a teleological theory of ethics, these theories look at the consequences- the results of an action- to decide whether something is right or wrong.
Utilitarianism is a consequentialist theory.
It is the opposite of deontological ethics (Like Kantian Ethics) that are based on moral rules, on whether the action itself is right or wrong. Jeremy Bentham Born: 15th Feb 1478 London
Read scholarly works at 3, Played violin at 5, Studied Latin and French at 6, Went to Oxford at 12 to train as a lawyer. Bentham's Utilitarianism Utilitarianism began with Bentham as a way of working out how good or bad the consequences of an action would be.
He thought of the idea when he came across the words "the greatest happiness for the greatest number'' in Joseph Priestley's "An essay on the first principles of government; an on the nature of political, civil and religious liberty (1768)''
Bentham was very concerned with social and legal reform and wanted to develop an ethical theory which established whether something was good or bad according to its benefit to the majority of people.
Bentham called this the principle of utility. Utility here means the usefulness of the results of actions.
Since utilitarianism focuses on the greatest number it is a quantitative theory. How do we measure happiness? Hedonism Bentham developed his ethical system around the idea of pleasure and it's based on ancient hedonism which pursued pleasure and avoids pain.
Utilitarianism is a hedonistic theory because good is defined in terms of pleasure and happiness.
Plato and Aristotle agreed that good=greatest happiness and Epicurus stressed pleasure as the main aim in life.
The Greek philosophers introduced the term Eudaimonia (well-being) The Hedonic Calculus For Bentham the most moral acts are those that maximise pleasure and minimise pain.
Bentham's Utilitarianism is often called Act Utilitarianism for this reason.
By adding up the amounts of pleasure and pain for each possible act we should be able to choose the good thing to do.
Happiness= Pleasure-Pain
Bentham came up with the Hedonic Calculus to help us choose the good thing to do and work out the possible consequences of an action.
The calculus has 7 elements: The Hedonic Calculus 1) The intensity of the pleasure (How deep?) 1 7 3 4 2 6 5 2) The duration of the pleasure caused
(How Long?) 3) The certainty of the pleasure (how certain or uncertain?) 4) The remoteness of the pleasure (How near or far?) 5) The chance of succession of pleasure (How continuous?) 6) The Purity of the pleasure (How secure?) 7) The extent of the pleasure (How universal?) You are all going to be given a card with a part of the Hedonic Calculus on it- you must move around the room and find the person who has the other half of your card. Pick any of the four scenarios and apply the Hedonic Calculus to the possible consequences to work out the best action. A popular local woman has been raped, the public are threatening riots.
There is a man in custody who the police know is innocent- do the Police frame him to keep the peace or let the riots happen and look for the real culprit? 1 2 A ship has an engineering fault, 5 men are trapped in engineering and the whole ship could be in danger, the problem is only fixable if the engineering room is deprived of oxygen, the room will explode in 15mins- does the captain kill the 5 men to save the ship or take his chances with a lifeboat operation? A man and his wife have been taken into custody suspected of having planted a bomb in a busy public shopping centre due to go off in an hour, they refuse to confirm or deny the allegations- do the Police torture the suspects for information or search the shopping centre hoping to find the bomb before it goes off? 3 4 A homeless man has been taken into Casualty with a terminal illness and no next of kin, his organs are viable and could be used to help 10's of people. One of those on the transplant list is a esteemed oncology specialist- do the doctors speed up the man's death to save lives or let him die naturally? Fill in the information on the Big Picture worksheet. Homework If this was a real lesson what do you think the homework should be? Put your answer on the post it note then pass it to the front. Get yourself into groups of 3.
You are all going to be given a blank powerpoint slide and a card with a number on it.
You are to imagine you are going to teach this to another year 12 class.
If you have number 1 you are planning the first slide, number 5 the last etc. Learners to Teachers There is some further reading (Blue Sheet) and example exam questions that you could get on Utilitarianism (Green Sheet) for you to take if you would like. Died: 6th June 1832 London
Body was embalmed and exhibited at University Collage London 1) The intensity of the pleasure
2) The duration of the pleasure caused
3) The certainty of the pleasure
4) The remoteness of the pleasure
5) The chance of succession of pleasure
6) The purity of the pleasure
7) The extent of the pleasure Hedonic Calculus
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