Advantages Of Act Utilitarianism

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There are two main types of utilitarianism: act and rule. Act-utlitarianism is Bentham's version of utilitarianism and operates by taking each situation on its own merits, wishing only to achieve the 'greatest hapiness for the greatest number' (Bentham, 2007) of people involved. There are no general rules, only the situation that applies to the individual. By contrast, for a rule-utilitarian, which is arguably Mill's version of utilitarianism, the greatest good for the greatest number is achieved when everyone follows laws and customs that aim to maximise the happiness of everyone, not just some individuals. Personally, I would assert that rule-utilitarianism has multiple advantages over act-utilitarianism and in this essay I intend to prove…show more content…
If, in cases such as the ones aforementioned, people are committed to carrying out acts which maximises utility, then no one will be able to trust that doctors won't use the organs of one patient to benefit others and that promise-makers will keep their promises. On a more general note, if everyone believed that lying, promise-breaking, cheating and violating the law were morally permissible whenever doing so would lead to good results, then no-one could trust other people to obey these rules. Consequently, society would turn into chaos, where people's behaviour would lack the level of predictability and consistency required to sustain trust and social stability. Clearly, this 'shows how a rule-consequentialist could justify a rule against telling lies' (Benn, 1998) and how the social impact of a rule-based morality is a fundamental virtue of rule-utilitarianism. Being able to trust people is extremely important to our well-being and by committing to an act-utilitarian case by case evaluation method, people become less reliable and trustworthy. Rule-utilitarianism avoids this issue as they are are committed to rules which generate positive expectation effects which tells us how people are likely to behave. While rule-utilitarians do not deny that there are people who are not trustworty, it is clear that their moral code condemns violations of trust as wrongful rather than the act-utilitarian approach which supports the moral view that has the effect of undermining trust. We should, 'therefore accept rules against…breaking promises and violating people's rights because following them as a regular practice promotes general welfare' (Rachels,
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