John Stuart Mills Act Utilitarianism

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In everyday life we make decisions, which in some way affect those around us, but should those decisions benefit us as an individual, or should they benefit the “greater good”? Utilitarianism, based on utility, states that we should, in fact, act for the greater good of the greater majority, rather than what we consider to be best for ourselves. The ethical theory of Utilitarianism was proposed by John Stuart Mills from a qualitative hedonistic view which states that there is only “one foundational good” (Burnor and Raley). Because Utilitarianism states that there is only one right moral standard, it falls under the view of Objectivism, in which there is only one universal moral standard. According to Utilitarianism, Popular Relativism…show more content…
Act Utilitarianism uses utility to analyze each consequence of possible actions. The action with the greatest pleasure for the greatest number is the act you ought to carry out and is the morally right choice. Act Utilitarianism is made up of four aspects. The aspects include: scope, duration, intensity, and probability. For the aspect of scope, we ask questions such as “Who is affected?” and “How many will be affected?”. We place those who have been affected by an act within a scope of an act’s effect. In duration, we ask “How long will the effects last?”. Intensity helps us to measure the degree of force an effect will have. Different effects may have different intensities for different individuals. Probability allows us to weigh the likelihood of an effect happening, should we act in a certain way. Rule Utilitarianism is similar to Act Utilitarianism in that it uses the principle of utility, however, Rule Utilitarianism decides what one’s moral principles ought to be, rather than telling one how to act. Many individuals believe Act Utilitarianism is too difficult, but it is probable to reject Act Utilitarianism, while maintaining Rule Utilitarianism. Rule Utilitarianism is made up of two foundational principles: Principles of Rules and of Acts. Principle of Rules is “A morally right rule or practice . . . [that] one . . . would promote significantly greater overall utility, if widely followed, than if it…show more content…
Act Utilitarianism, being a hedonistic view, promotes the greatest happiness for the greatest good, however Rule Utilitarianism is based on rules of thumb, which may contradict themselves. For example, Rule Utilitarianism makes progress in the sense of being moral saints. This is based on how it takes “into account the effects of the rule or practice itself” (pg. 137). Those whose needs have been met who want to give a portion of their income to the less fortunate promote the greater good. But if they do this, so should everyone else, including those whose needs have not been met. This is where we find Rule Utilitarianism to be incomplete because those whose needs have not been met would also need to give a portion of their incomes away to promote the greater good, but if they planned to use that money to pay for medical school, then they have strayed from helping the greater good in the long run. By promoting the greater good, they somehow end up harming the greater happiness. This is called the Dilemma Principle, when “circumstances place two or more moral rules in conflict” (pg. 140). Act Utilitarianism says to always act in a way that produces the greatest good, therefore it is more complete and does not contradict itself. Act Utilitarianism is also more practical than Rule because it can be applied in every situation. While, Act
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