Western Ethics: Utilitarianism: Meaning, Jeremy Bentham and Different Kinds of Utilitarianism

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Meaning

  • It is an ethical Philosophical theory.
  • Moral action is the one which leads to greatest well-being of the greatest number of people.
  • It is a form of an Altruism.
  • Part of Normative Ethics.
  • Jeremy Bentham, J. S. Mill, Sidgwick, Singer, etc. are some of the names of famous utilitarian՚s.
  • Stemmed around the 18th century.

Jeremy Bentham

Jeremy Bentham
  • Founder of the Utilitarianism.
  • Utilitarian theory is teleological in nature.
  • Also called as Consequentialism
  • Stark Opposite of Kant՚s Deontological ethical theory

Different Kinds of Utilitarianism

Gross Utilitarianism

  • This is introduced by Jeremy Bentham.
  • Also called Quantitative Utilitarianism.
  • Pleasure or utility has quantitative differences.
  • For example, some pleasure are more, and some are less.
  • Theory of Utility: it means pleasure and pain are capable of quantification, hence they are capable of measure.

Refined or Qualitative Utilitarianism

  • This is introduced by J. S. Mill
  • According to the theory, all pleasures are not alike.
  • Mill believed that pleasure or utility has qualitative difference.

Negative Utilitarianism

  • Introduced by Karl Popper
  • According to Negative utilitarianism, we should act to minimise suffering or pain and not maximise pleasure.

Act Utilitarianism

  • Advocated by Bentham
  • According to Act utilitarianism, the moral worth of an action is determined by its utility to the people.

Rule Utilitarianism

  • Advocated by Brandt, Hooker, etc.
  • According to Rule utilitarianism, the moral worth of an action is determined on the rule which leads to maximum pleasure for maximum number of people.
  • Rule utilitarianism is based on intuitive moral rules, whereas, act utilitarianism deals with critical or moral reasoning.

Ideal Utilitarianism

  • Introduced by Hasting Rushall
  • Moral worth of an action is based on the values.
  • So, the values must be maximised, rather than pleasure.

Preference Utilitarianism

  • Also known as preferentialism.
  • According to Preference utilitarianism, moral worth of action is determined by fulfilling greatest amount of personal interests.

Two-Level Utilitarianism

  • Introduced by R. M. Hare.
  • The theory of Two-level Utilitarianism is a synthesis of Act and Rule utilitarianism.
  • According to the theory, moral worth of an action should be based on rule utilitarianism, except in certain circumstances, where it is more appropriate to use act utilitarianism.

Average Utilitarianism

  • Introduced by Henry Sidgwick
  • Also known as averagism
  • Instead of maximum pleasure of maximum number of people, average pleasure should be maximised.

MCQs

1. ________ formed the theory of principle of Measure

A. Mill

B. R. M Hare

C. Bentham

D. All Utilitarian՚s

Answer: C

Explanation: Jeremy Bentham formed the theory of principle of utility or called principle of measure.

2. Match the list:

Match the List
List AList B
Benthami. Gross Utilitarianism
Millii. Average Utilitarianism
Karl Popperiii. Negative Utilitarianism
Henry Sidgwickiv. Refined Utilitarianism

A. i iv iii ii

B. iv i iii ii

C. i iv ii iii

D. None of these

Answer: A

Explanation:

  • Bentham introduced Gross utilitarianism
  • Mill introduced Refined Utilitarianism
  • Karl Popper introduced Negative Utilitarianism
  • Henry Sidgwick introduced Average Utilitarianism

3. Pleasure or Utility has quantitative differences is accepted by

A. Mill

B. R. M Hare

C. Bentham

D. Karl Popper

Answer: C

Explanation: Gross Utilitarianism: This is introduced by Jeremy Bentham. Also called Quantitative Utilitarianism. Pleasure or utility has quantitative differences. For example, some pleasure are more, and some are less.

4. Values must be maximised, rather than pleasure is accepted by

A. Mill

B. Popper

C. Hare

D. Rushall

Answer: D

Explanation: Ideal Utilitarianism: introduced by Hasting Rushall. Moral worth of an action is based on the values. So, the values must be maximised, rather than pleasure.

5. All pleasures are not alike is the view of

A. Bentham

B. Mill

C. Both A and B

D. Hooker & Hare

Answer: B

Explanation: Refined or Qualitative Utilitarianism: This is introduced by J. S. Mill. According to the theory, all pleasures are not alike. Mill believed that pleasure or utility has qualitative difference.

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