By doing so, he reaffirmed and redefined the philosophical doctrine espousing the practical, useful idea that the rightness of an action may be measured by whether it achieves the greatest possible good for the greatest possible number. It was a doctrine around which a small but influential group of English radical reformers—utilitarians—rallied, Mill among them. When Utilitarianism was published inMill already enjoyed international recognition as a distinguished political economist.
Precursors to the Classical Approach Though the first systematic account of utilitarianism was developed by Jeremy Bentham —the core insight motivating the theory occurred much earlier.
Of these, Francis Hutcheson — is explicitly utilitarian when it comes to action choice. They believed that promoting human happiness was incumbent on us since it was approved by God.
This view was combined with a view of human motivation with egoistic elements. A person's individual salvation, her eternal happiness, depended on conformity to God's will, as did virtue itself.
Promoting human happiness and one's own coincided, but, given God's design, it was not an accidental coincidence. This approach to utilitarianism, however, is not theoretically clean in the sense that it isn't clear what essential work God does, at least in terms of normative ethics.
God as the source of normativity is compatible with utilitarianism, but utilitarianism doesn't Utilitarianism theory summary this. Gay's influence on later writers, such as Hume, deserves note. It is in Gay's essay that some of the questions that concerned Hume on the nature of virtue are addressed.
For example, Gay was curious about how to explain our practice of approbation and disapprobation of action and character.
When we see an act that is vicious we disapprove of it. Further, we associate certain things with their effects, so that we form positive associations and negative associations that also underwrite our moral judgments.
Of course, that we view happiness, including the happiness of others as a good, is due to God's design. This is a feature crucial to the theological approach, which would clearly be rejected by Hume in favor of a naturalistic view of human nature and a reliance on our sympathetic engagement with others, an approach anticipated by Shaftesbury below.
The theological approach to utilitarianism would be developed later by William Paley, for example, but the lack of any theoretical necessity in appealing to God would result in its diminishing appeal. This seems to have been an innate sense of right and wrong, or moral beauty and deformity.
Again, aspects of this doctrine would be picked up by Francis Hutcheson and David Hume — Hume, of course, would clearly reject any robust realist implications. If the moral sense is like the other perceptual senses and enables us to pick up on properties out there in the universe around us, properties that exist independent from our perception of them, that are objective, then Hume clearly was not a moral sense theorist in this regard.
But perception picks up on features of our environment that one could regard as having a contingent quality.
There is one famous passage where Hume likens moral discrimination to the perception of secondary qualities, such as color.Utilitarian Theories. Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is a normative ethical theory that places the locus of right and wrong solely on the outcomes (consequences) of choosing one action/policy over other actions/policies.
Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics, or the ethics that define the morality of actions, as proposed by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. It . In summary, utilitarians perform that action which produces the greatest balance of happiness over unhappiness from the available alternatives.
Thus, the first key concept of utilitarianism is that of maximizing utility or happiness. It is important to note that computations of the net utility count everyone’s happiness equally.
Unlike egoists, who claim that persons should maximize their own utility, . John Stuart Mill: Ethics. The ethical theory of John Stuart Mill () is most extensively articulated in his classical text Utilitarianism (). Its goal is to justify the utilitarian principle as the foundation of morals.
This principle says actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote overall human happiness.
Deontological Ethics There are two major ethics theories that attempt to specify and justify moral rules and principles: utilitarianism and deontological ethics. Utilitarianism (also called consequentialism) is a moral theory developed and refined in the modern world in the writings of Jeremy Bentham () and John Stuart Mill ().
Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics, or the ethics that define the morality of actions, as proposed by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. It is defined by utility, the existence of.