The General Principles Of Utilitarianism

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AS - Level AS Religious Education Mind Map on The General Principles Of Utilitarianism, created by hollieowens on 05/09/2016.

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The General Principles Of Utilitarianism
  1. Utilitarianism
    1. 1. Utilitarianism is a 19th Century ethical theory, most often attributed to Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.
      1. 2. They adopted the principle the right actions are those which produce the greatest total pleasure for everyone affected by their consequences, and wrong actions are those which do not.
        1. 3. Comes from the word 'utility' which means 'usefulness'. How useful an action is, is based on its end result.
          1. Utilitarianism, in particular concerns itself with working out how 'useful' an action is based upon assessing its end result.
          2. Utilitarian's argue that everyone should do the thing that produces the most 'useful' end. They apply this by the 'Greatest Happiness Principle (GHP)'.
          3. Utilitarianism is the ethical theory that argues the correct way of action is that derived from working out what brings happiness to the greatest number.
        2. Greatest Happiness Principle
          1. 1. The Greatest Happiness Principle is at the heart of a number of ethical theories that fall under the umbrella of 'Utilitarianism'.
            1. 2. The rightness of wrongness of an action is determined by its 'utility' of usefulness.
              1. 3. Usefulness refers to the amount of pleasure or happiness caused by the action.
            2. The Greatest Happiness Principle is the idea of assessing which course of action is the best one to take. We decide which course is the best one to take because the most useful end is seen as that which brings the maximum levels of 'happiness or pleasure'. Therefore actions that produce the most happiness are seen as the best course of action i.e. good moral actions.
            3. Deontological & Telelogical Thinking
              1. 1. In deontological ethics the rightness of wrongness of an act is intrinsic to the act.
                1. 2. Teleological ethics is extrinsic to the act, lying in the consequences of the action.
                  1. 4. Teleological ethics focus on the consequences/result which any action might have.
                    1. 5. For that reason, they are often referred to consequentialist moral systems.
                      1. 6. Thus, in order to make correct moral choices, we have to have some understanding of what will result from our choices.
                        1. 7. When we make choices which result in the correct consequences, then we are acting morally; when we make choices which result in the incorrect consequences, then we are acting immorally.
                    2. 3. The 10 commandments are an example of a deontological approach.
                    3. Utilitarianism is concerned about the outcome or end of an action it is a teleological approach rather than a deontological approach,. For instance, deontological ethical theories are concerned with the acts themselves irrespective of the consequences of those acts. For example, a deontologist might reason, to take away life is wrong irrespective if the situation or consequences therefore euthanasia is wrong.
                      1. Whereas teleological thinking considers the consequences of a particular action or the 'end' result, and it is the assessment of this 'end' that determines whether or not the action is morally good. As it considers consequences it is also known as 'consequential thinking;. In the of Utilitarianism, the theory holds that the action that best results in 'the greatest happiness for the greatest number' is the right action.
                    4. The Principle of Utility
                      1. 1. The principle claims that we should choose the action most likely to bring about the greatest happiness of the greatest number.
                        1. 2. Thus in one set of circumstances action 'A' may be the most appropriate, whereas under other circumstances action 'B' might bring more happiness for more people.
                          1. 3. No action, therefore, is judged solely on its own merits, but must be judged in terms of its usefulness in any one particular set of circumstances.
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