Advantages claimed for utilitarianism, History

Advantages Claimed For Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism claims to overcome four major disadvantages of what I have called deontological moral theories. These are:

 (1) The reliance on moral intuitions to identify moral principles notwithstanding the variability and unreliability of such intuitions. (For thousands of years intuition led people to accept slavery as being morally defensible.)

(2) The pluralism of many deontological theories, whose moral principles may conflict.

(3) The absolutism of more than one principle in some pluralist theories. If these principles apply without exception any conflict between them must be irreconcilable.

(4) Typically, the lack of a consistent and reliable decision procedure for choosing the right course of action in particular circumstances. Utilitarianism purports to overcome these major defects in deontological theories in the following ways. So far as unreliable and variable intuition is concerned, Bentham believed that two moral intuitions were self evidently true and moreover accepted as true by everyone-namely, that suffering is an evil and happiness a good. He believed that from these two indisputable and undisputed facts the theory of utilitarianism could be derived. Moreover, as happiness and suffering can be understood to be poles of a continuum utilitarianism is in effect monist (based on a single moral intuition rather than two) and thus no pluralist potential for conflict arises.

Obviously there can be no problems of fundamental moral conflict in any monist theory, and in cases of apparent conflict (should one obey the law or steal to save the starving child ?) the quandary can and should be resolved by calculating the net effects of the alternatives on overall happiness and choosing the course that produces most happiness or least suffering (the so called hedonic calculus from the Greek word for pleasure). The problem that arises when pluralist moral theories contain more than one absolute moral principle is also overcome for, although utilitarianism is strictly speaking both deontological (a duty based theory; one of Bentham's books is actually called Deontology) and absolutist, as it is monist there are no problems of moral conflict and, a fortiori, no problems of fundamental or irreconcilable moral conflict. Finally, utilitarianism claims to provide a consistent and reliable procedure for making decisions in one or other variant of the hedonic calculus. If these claims could be sustained and criticisms countered utilitarianism would undoubtedly be an extremely attractive moral theory offering considerable advantages over pluralist deontological moral theories, but obviously there are important objections, and these can conveniently be considered in terms of the theory's coherence, its justification, and its results (see Bibliography).

Posted Date: 3/6/2013 6:31:52 AM | Location : United States







Related Discussions:- Advantages claimed for utilitarianism, Assignment Help, Ask Question on Advantages claimed for utilitarianism, Get Answer, Expert's Help, Advantages claimed for utilitarianism Discussions

Write discussion on Advantages claimed for utilitarianism
Your posts are moderated
Related Questions
Describe in general the Greek poleis. Would YOU have rather lived in the Athenian polis or the Spartan polis? Why? Show that you understand the attributes of both societies in your

I don't quite understand what the professor want me to write. The 1920's was the first "modern" decade of the twentieth century. Was is meant by this statement? Considering this

What compromises over slavery did the members of Congress make to settle the Missouri crisis? How did the compromises over slavery in 1820-1821 compare with those made by the deleg

What happened to the countries of the Eastern Bloc after the end of the Cold War? What was the the Solidarnosc or Solidarity movement? How did it work out?

What two key reform movements gave rise to the women's suffrage movement? health and education reform anti-slavery and temperance factory reform and women's health suffrage for

According to the speech on women's liberation and changing society by Pankhurst, Simone de Beauvoir, what are the goals of the women's movement? To what extent were these legitimat

What roles did government-state and national-play in the development of America's transportation networks between 1820 -1860?

women had power to influence the world around them long before gained the right to vote. Sometimes they acted alone and other times they worked with others. First consider the ways

Protections for civil liberties are almost never absolute. The government has always been willing to weaken protections for civil liberties when other, important considerations dem

Consider what conditions helped democratic movements succeed and what conditions cause difficulties for them. what do you think were their hardest challenges?