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Theory of Utilitarianism
of the utilitarian ideal. The Methods of Ethics, Seventh Edition, available in many editions, 1907. The happiness of the agent is the determining factor; the happiness of others governs only to the extent that the agent is motivated by sympathy, benevolence, or interest in the good will and good opinion of others. Some philosophers in the utilitarian tradition have recognized certain wholly nonhedonistic values without losing their utilitarian credentials. According to this perspective, we should judge the morality of individual actions by reference to general moral rules, and we should judge particular moral rules by seeing whether their acceptance into our moral code would produce more well-being than other possible rules. This criticism only stands up if it is always wrong and thus never morally justified to treat people in these ways. Morality, Utilitarianism, and Rights. Rule utilitarians adopt a two part view that stresses the importance of moral rules. Their claim is that, if an experience is neither pleasurable nor painful, then it is a matter of indifference and has no intrinsic value. In emergency medical situations, for example, a driver may justifiably go through a red light or stop sign based on the drivers own assessment that a) this can be done safely and b) the situation is one in which even a short delay might cause.
The Rule Worship Objection Act utilitarians criticize rule utilitarians for irrationally supporting rule-based actions in cases where more good could be done by violating the rule than obeying. They argue that it is a mistake to treat whole classes of actions as right or wrong because the effects of actions differ when they are done in different contexts and morality must focus on the likely effects of individual actions. Therefore, we can maximize the overall well-being of children as a class by designating certain people as the caretakers for specific children. Passages at the end of chapter suggest that Mill was a rule utilitarian. In their view, whatever defects act utilitarianism may have, rule utilitarianism will have the same defects. There is also difficulty in the procedure of comparing alternative acts. Miller, in Chapter 6, argues that Mill was a rule utilitarian. Rule utilitarianism stresses the recurrent features of human life and the ways in which similar needs and problems arise over and over again. In spite of this paradox, rule utilitarianism possesses its own appeal, and its focus on moral rules can sound quite plausible. How could this be something that a utilitarian would support? Rowman and Littlefield, 2000.
They do not have the authority to do whatever they think will lead to the best results in particular cases. The critical question, however, is whether the whole of normative ethics can be analyzed in terms of this simple formula. This would occur if unforeseen bad consequences reveal that the option chosen did not have the best results and thus was the wrong thing. They tell us thou shalt not do x rather than saying thou shalt not do x except in circumstances a, b,. Later developments more clearly reflected the Utilitarian philosophy. But the Utilitarian readily answers that the widespread practice of such acts would result in a loss of trustworthiness and security.
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