What is the principle of utility

Thus, an action that results in the greatest pleasure for the utility of society is the best action, or as Jeremy Bentham, the founder of early Utilitarianism put it, as the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

Suppose you could end a regional war by torturing children whose fathers are enemy soliders, thus revealing the hide outs of the fathers.

By this I mean the principle that, in deciding what is good and what is bad for a given individual, the ultimate criterion can only be his own wants and his own preferences.

In EthicsMoore rejected a purely hedonistic utilitarianism and argued that there is a range of values that might be maximized. The theological utilitarians had the option of grounding their pursuit of happiness in the will of God; the hedonistic utilitarians needed a different defence. Another response might be that the riots the sheriff is trying to avoid might have positive utility in the long run by drawing attention to questions of race and resources to help address tensions between the communities.

As Alastair Norcross has said, "suppose that Homer is faced with the painful choice between saving Barney from a burning building or saving both Moe and Apu from the building…it is clearly better for Homer to save the larger number, precisely because it is a larger number… Can anyone who really considers the matter seriously honestly claim to believe that it is worse that one person die than that the entire sentient population of the universe be severely mutilated?

Finally, it is necessary to consider the extent, or the number of people affected by the action. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question… [31] Mill argues that if people who are "competently acquainted" with two pleasures show a decided preference for one even if it be accompanied by more discontent and "would not resign it for any quantity of the other", then it is legitimate to regard that pleasure as being superior in quality.


They are desired and desirable in and for themselves; besides being means, they are a part of the end. Indeed, the greatest happiness principle has often been used in support of totalitarian schemes in which the price paid for collective happiness has been personal freedom.

Third, most deontological theorists say that utilitarianism often conflicts with our moral intuitions. A classical utilitarian would have to examine how that expenditure would effect everyone in the community.

A classic version of this criticism was given by H. In such a case the sheriff, if he were an extreme utilitarian, would appear to be committed to framing the Negro. To deal with this, Harsanyi distinguishes between "manifest" preferences and "true" preferences.

This view of pleasure was hedonistic, as it pursued the thought that pleasure is the highest good in life.


The essential difference is in what determines whether or not an action is the right action. Instead of the greatest happiness for the greatest number, one should demand, more modestly, the least amount of avoidable suffering for all Predicting consequences[ edit ] Some argue that it is impossible to do the calculation that utilitarianism requires because consequences are inherently unknowable.

It is possible to justify immoral acts using AU: He also notes that, contrary to what its critics might say, there is "no known Epicurean theory of life which does not assign to the pleasures of the intellect… a much higher value as pleasures than to those of mere sensation.

This is considered in The Theory of Legislation, where Bentham distinguishes between evils of the first and second orders. Moorewriting insaid: Whereas, intellectual pursuits give long term happiness because provide the individual with constant opportunities throughout the years to improve his life, by benefiting from accruing knowledge.

InUrmson published an influential article [48] arguing that Mill justified rules on utilitarian principles. People sometimes have irrational preferences.

Hence, utility is a teleological principle. He is accused of committing the naturalistic fallacybecause he is trying to deduce what people ought to do from what they in fact do; the fallacy of equivocationbecause he moves from the fact that 1 something is desirable, i. This once again raises some of the same basic issues of associated with hedonism, as discussed in the earlier section on Teleological Theories.

There are several interesting problems here. Utility, within the context of utilitarianism, refers to people performing actions for social utility.

However, the critical moral thinking underpins and informs the more intuitive moral thinking. Some school level textbooks and at least one UK examination board [50] make a further distinction between strong and weak rule utilitarianism.Learn principle of utility with free interactive flashcards.

Choose from different sets of principle of utility flashcards on Quizlet. 1)The Principle of Utility is the belief that when a person has a number of options in a moral situation he should chose the one that results in the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people.

Rule-utilitarianism-- The principle of utility is used to determine the validity of rules of conduct (moral principles). A rule like promise-keeping is established by looking at the consequences of a world in which people broke promises at will and a world in which promises were binding.

Oct 13,  · Best Answer: haha its not only about electrical bills, tho that is a good example. utilitarianism is that the moral worth (or just plain worth really) of an action or decision is the sum of all the good and bad of all that are affected by the action. a real life example of this, and i hope i don't offend Status: Resolved.

a. The principle that tells us an action is right or wrong according to how easy the action is to perform. b. The principle that tells us an action is right or wrong according to whether it promotes happiness. c. The principle that tells us an action is right or wrong according to the intention with.

The principle of utility states that actions or behaviors are right in so far as they promote happiness or pleasure, wrong as they tend to produce unhappiness or pain.

Hence, utility is a teleological principle.

What is the principle of utility
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