Evaluate The View That Utilitarianism Continues To Offer A Useful Way Of Resolving Moral Dilemmas St Ambrose College, 6fr Essay

1523 words - 7 pages

Evaluate the view that Utilitarianism continues to offer a useful way of resolving moral dilemmas. Use knowledge and understanding across your course of study to answer this question.
In your response to this question, you must include how developments in religion and ethics have been influenced by one of the following:
· Philosophy of religion
· New testament studies
· The study of a religion
Utilitarianism is a relativist and consequentialist ethical argument based on the principle of utility that proposes that all actions must produce the greatest amount of pleasure for the greatest amount of people. The principle of utility, as mentioned above, is the basis of utilitarianism. The principle of utility suggests an action is ‘good’ if it brings about the greatest amount of pleasure and the least amount of pain for the greatest number. The founder of utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham, thought this was essential in resolving moral dilemmas, as in Bentham’s eyes he felt that “nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pleasure and pain” and therefore the quantity of each is important. Though this form of utilitarianism, quantitative utilitarianism, was founded by Bentham in the late 18th century, there have been many other scholars and moral philosophers that have created many other versions of utilitarianism that have use when solving moral dilemmas.
Bentham, along with the creation of quantitative utilitarianism, created a ‘calculus’ based upon seven criteria that Bentham believed could scientifically calculate pleasure , each segment of criteria is a step that puts an action into perspective to reach a so called final calculation. The seven criteria are: duration, intensity, propinquity, extent, certainty, purity, and fecundity. The felicific calculus, or hedonic calculus, allows situations to be scientifically calculated for the ‘best’ outcome. The calculus allows us to ‘scientifically’ explore the seven key features of situations providing a good analysis of a situation. It is also based on the principle of utility, which provides the best outcome for the majority, not for the few. However, arguably, although the calculus makes everyone equal, logically, we do not value everyone’s pleasure the same. This is a significant factor in moral decision making as we are more likely to sacrifice the unknown majority’s pleasure for your own or for friends and family. Similarly, the calculus is too extensive and complicated to be implemented into a busy life as it takes too long to make a decision following the seven criteria.
Although Bentham created utilitarianism, he formed a platform for other scholars to develop on his original idea, and the first person to do so was the Scottish philosopher and economist, John Stuart Mill. He had similar views on how utilitarianism can be used to solve moral dilemmas as instead of focusing on the quantity of pleasure created in a situation, Mill focused on the quality of...

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