John Stuart Mill Act Utilitarianism Flashcard

Define the principle of act utilitarianism
~Any action is right as long as it produces the greatest possible happiness for the greatest number of individuals possible given the circumstances
~Act for the greater good
If more of your friends want to do yoga rather than basketball. What decision do you make?
You pick yoga because it would make the most people happy.
There is a large group of strangers and and small group containing your sister. A lion is released, which group do you save.
You save the larger group because it would create the greatest happiness even if your sister is in the small group. No one person is greater than anyone else.
Terrorist are on a plane of 75 people and they hijack it and go toward a high rise. Which group of people do you save?
You save the people in the building because more individuals would be happy.
Is act utilitarianism a relativistic theory or absolutist?
Absolutist theory
T/F: Act utilitarianism is an objective theory like math and science
Definition of objective
not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering fact
Define absolutist
the true ethical theory. Doesn’t change. It’s the same any time, place, person
Clarify Relativistic Cultural
what is wrong/ right based on a culture’s morals.
if you move to another culture, then you go by what they believe is wrong/right.
Clarify Relativistic Individual/Subjective
what is morally right/wrong is based on what an individual believes
What matters in act utilitarianism, intentions or consequences?
ONLY consequences of the action matter. The action is immoral because of the consequence that happened.
Is morality attributed to actions or individuals?
Actions ONLY
T/F: Individuals have different weights of happiness
False. Everyone is given the same weight of happiness.
Define intrinsic value
it is valuable within itself. not a means to an end.
T/F: happiness is the only thing with intrinsic value
Define utility value
The value something has for the sake of achieving something else.
T/F: Everything besides happiness has utility value
Define individual hedonism
Act for one’s own immediate happiness only
Define altruism
Act only in the interest of others
Define Egoism
Act only in one’s own enlightened self interest.
Willing to do things that don’t necessarily bring them immediate happinness, but are working toward their happiness.
Criticism #1: Utilitarianism implies that human happiness and animal happiness are just as important
Reply: There are higher and lower levels of happiness.
Humans are capable of higher levels.
Humans & animals happiness are not equal.
Criticism #2: Since happiness is relative to individuals, utilitarianism is a relativist view, not absolutist
Reply: There is an objective scale of levels of happiness that is the same for everyone.
The more you experience the more knowledge you have about knowing what actions belong at what level of happiness.
Criticism #3: Utilitarianism does not protect individuals against the happiness requirements of the group.
Rule Utilitarianism- the ethical view that one out to act on the rule that most of the time produces the greatest happiness for the greatest number
Criticism #4: The happy machine
Other things matter besides happiness: truth, genuineness (of friendship, love, etc.), reality, achieving your own happiness
Reply: The happiness machine can make you seem to have these things, so what’s the problem?
Criticism #5: If happiness is the only thing that is intrinsically valuable, then things like friendship, loyalty, love, justice and virtue are not intrinsically valuable, which is counterintuitive
Reply: These are all intrinsically valuable because they all are aspects of happiness. Happiness is not abstract, it has parts (love, friendship, etc.)
Criticism #6: Since one is not all knowing, it is often difficult to predict the consequences that an action will have
Reply: That is sometimes true, but there are still many instances where you can be pretty sure of what will result.
What makes an action morally right has to do with suffering and happiness
The causing of suffering always has to do with some kind of happiness (vice-versa)

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