HISTORICAL CONTEXT THE ENLIGHTENMENT The Enlightenment was revolutionary time. Philosophers and activists were challenging the social norms. From the abolition of slavery, to the writing of Charles Dickens, challenging the social order and class system was rife. Use of reason and logic, accessible to all, was promoted and people were challenged to think for themselves. Understanding the historical context of the time in which an ethical theory was developed
can help you be able to explain a theorists aims and motivations. Tasks Use the QR code to investigate: 1. What was the time span of the enlightenment? 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
What did thinkers of this time period believe about society? What did Kant say in his essay "What Is Enlightenment?" (1784)? What did Locke say of human reason and logic in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)? Explain a key event or ideas from each of the three parts of the enlightenment. What is egalitarianism? Explain how the enlightenment influenced the key thinkers behind the ethical theory of utilitarianism. THINK, PAIR, SHARE SHOW THAT YOU UNDERSTAND A: When was the enlightenment?
B: Explain 1 event of the enlightenment that showed change. B: Describe two key thinkers contributions from during the enlightenment (any field) A: Describe two key thinkers contributions from during the enlightenment (any field) A: What was happening in Britain that utilitarian thinkers thought required change? B: How did they attempt to bring about this JEREMY BENTHAM THE QUANTITY OF PLEASURE IS WHAT MATTERS Jeremy Bentham was an advocate of hedonism; the theory that the most useful thing to do and therefore the moral thing to do is the maximisation of pleasure and the minimisation of pain.
His Principle of Utility therefore promotes the greatest good for the greatest number. Bentham composed a hedonic calculus as a tool for weighing up the consequential pleasure and pain that results from an action in order to be able to work out whether that action was GOOD or KEY THINKER - JEREMY BENTHAM (1748-1832) Jeremy Bentham was an advocate of social reform in order to improve the state and happiness of the majority.
He supported hedonism; the theory that the most useful thing to do and therefore the moral thing to do is the maximisation of pleasure and the minimisation of pain. He thought that the fact that we seek pleasure and avoid pain could be used a s a basis for making moral choices, since we can see that is realistically and empirically what people do. This was an empirical observation - people desire pleasure and seek to avoid pain. His scientific mind led him to believe that the study of ethics could be undertaken in a practical way, carefully measuring the possible consequences or outcomes of an action before deciding which choice to take.
TELEOLOGICAL AND CONSEQUENTIAL Bentham was teleological and consequential in his approach, with no moral objective good. The good was to be figured out using empirical observation of the consequences and subsequent relief from pain and pleasure that is caused. You are responsible for the funds of a large hospital. You have a limited amount of funds left. You can opt to spend the money on: a) Funding a live saving transplant to a father or 3, currently in a coma in a high dependency ward. b) Improving the facilities for a ward designed to
rehabilitate elderly stroke victims Application Task: 1. The principle of utility - which action would reduce pain/cause pleasure? 2. The principle of consequences what are the consequences in each scenario? 3. Greatest Happiness for greatest number the number of people affected in each scenario? PRINCIPLE OF UTILITY His Principle of Utility therefore promotes the greatest good for the greatest number. Bentham composed a hedonic calculus as a
tool for weighing up the consequential pleasure and pain that results from an action in order to be able to work out whether that action was GOOD or not. This is to be done on a case by case basis with no strict or absolute rules. HEDONIC CALCULUS APPLICATION OF UTILITARIANISM In general euthanasia is acceptable to a Utilitarian as it minimises pain, though it may consider long term consequences. Good candidates may consider the question of what counts as good consequences, and for whom are
they considered good? For the individual, the family, the NHS, society? Euthanasia can allow for the preservation of dignity and human autonomy. However we should consider that there is no protection for the individual against the majority and no safe-guarding of the individuals right to continue to live in spite of their suffering and pain. What is individuals felt pressurised or a corrupt law can into force? Could the rights of an individual be overruled if there was a benefit to the majority? APPLYING THE HEDONIC
CALCULUS How might the principle of utility respond to this case? Choose 4 parts of the calculus to apply to this case. HEDONIC CALCULUS
REVIEW Describe one benefit of Benthams Greatest Happiness for greatest number Describe one possible problem of Bemthams Greatest Happiness for greatest number ACT UTILITARIANISM ACT maintains that whenever possible the principle of utility should be directly applied for each
individual circumstance. When faced with a moral choice a person must decide what action will lead to the greatest good in a particular circumstance. Each situation needs consideration. If lying will produce the greatest pleasure they should lie. If in the next situation telling the truth will produce the greatest pleasure then they should tell the truth
TASK: LIST 5 STRENGTHS OF RULE UTILITARIANISM? 1. Convincing assumptions: preference for pleasure and happiness. 2. Explains morality as a social extension of natural inclinations. 3. Transforms difficult moral deliberations into manageable empirical considerations. 4. Advances flexibility over dogmatic persistence on principles. The stress is on the practices conducive to happiness not on prescribed rules or social norms. MILL UPDATES ACT TO
RULE Task Analyse the quote: Better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied What do you think this means Mill thinks about Rule Utilitarianism? TASK: THINK PAIR SHARE PROBLEMS WITH RULE UTILITARIANISM? The concept of happiness is not clear. Very vague: equated either with pleasures or with the public good. Measurements and the units of happiness are arbitrary and subjective. It claims to be empirical,
but it is far too subjective. Disregard for motives and intrinsic values could lead to immoral and unjust consequences. Any act could be sanctioned do we want this? Possible mistreatment of the minority in a society. The social (altruistic) component could be too JOHN STUART MILL RULE UTILITARIANISM THE QUALITY OF PLEASURE IS WHAT MATTERS Mill recognised the problems with Benthams principle of utility and was more careful in his definition of pleasure. Mill shifted the emphasis from the quantity of pleasure to the quality of
pleasure. Mill also distinguished between higher pleasures (cultural and spiritual pleasures of the mind) and lower pleasures (bodily needs such as sex and food). RULE UTILITARIANISM Mill formulated Rule Utilitarianism. Rule utilitarianism focuses on general RULES that everybody should follow to bring about the greatest good for that community.
We should vote on the best possible result for the whole community which produces the most happiness and that should become a rule for society to live by. It creates RULES. Mill hoped to avoid the lower pleasures being given too much focus as we look at the best possible results for the community. RULE UTILITARIANISM
In a situation I must obey the rule even if it doesnt lead to the greatest pleasure for me in this situation. Driving on the left you should always drive on the left even if it doesnt always provide happiness (traffic jam) because it will produce a greater overall good. A person should never lie because it doesnt bring about the greatest good for the community.
RULE UTILITARIANISM How does this stay in with consequentialist ideas? Rule utilitarianism instead of focusing on the consequences of actions it focuses on the consequences of rules. A rule is good if its consequences result in overall happiness.
SO WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACT AND RULE UTILITARIANISM? The difference between rule and act utilitarianism is that act utilitarian considers only the results or consequences of the single act while the rule utilitarian considers the consequences that result from of following a rule of conduct . Why the two approaches? Someone goes to the doctor. The person is ill, experiences pain and cannot function properly. The doctor
performs a series of tests and examinations. The person returns to the doctor's surgery to learn of the results, the diagnosis and prognosis. The doctor is aware that the tests all show that the person has a disease that is incurable and life threatening. In fact even under the most aggressive treatment option there is a survival rate of less than 15% for two years. The doctor is considering what would be GOOD to tell the person. Should the person know the truth or should the person be told something other than the truth? Which is better? Which is the right thing to do? What would be GOOD to do? Discu
ss The act utilitarian might calculate that in telling the truth there will be a great deal of pain and hardly any pleasure at all The person will be upset, their family will be upset, the doctor will be upset in informing the ill person that there is nothing that the doctor can do to alter their condition. On the other hand if the doctor makes up a story concerning the diagnosis and prognosis that is not true but that gives the ill person more time to enjoy life before the illness makes it obvious that the end is near, well then the results are different. The doctor is not so upset in seeing the person, the family and friends of the person have some more time with that person to enjoy things instead of being sad and depressed. So the ACT utilitarian might calculate that the GOOD thing to do is to lie.
But the rule utilitarian would need to consider what would the long term consequences be if doctors were to lie to those who come to them and have life threatening, incurable illnesses. The rule utilitarian might calculate that people would no longer be able to trust their doctors and this would break down the confidence they need for their therapies to be effective. The RULE utilitarian might calculate that there is far more harm in lying and so the GOOD thing to do is to tell the truth.
APPLICATION OF RULE UTILITARIANISM Euthanasia pick one scenario and apply Workers rights pick one scenario and apply PREFERENCE UTILITARIANISM Peter singer (1946 - now) argues for a modified version of utilitarianism called preference utilitarianism or best consequence utilitarianism. You should maximise the best interests of
those affected, rather than create the most pleasure and least pain. Ethical decisions should be in the best interests (or preferences) of those affected rather than create the most pleasure Everybody's interests must be given equal consideration. PREFERENCE UTILITARIANISM This other version of utilitarianism
judges actions, not by their tendency to maximise pleasure or minimise pain, but by the extent to which they accord with the preference of any beings affected by the action or its consequences. Singer What matters is the satisfaction of an individual persons interests or desires all people that would be affected by the course of action. Sacrificing an individual because it benefits the majority becomes more problematic.
PREFERENCE UTILITARIANISM Preference utilitarianism tries to maximise the satisfaction of peoples preferences. This requires considerable thought. When a person thinks ethically they must weigh up all of the interests of the people involved. A person must do their best to take into all the
interests into consideration and to avoid minorities being marginalised. Choose the course of action which brings the best consequences, on balance, for all affected. Singer. APPLICATION OF PREFERENCE UTILITARIANISM Task: Apply to 1. Euthanasia 2. Abortion
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