- Jeremy Bentham 1748-1832
- An action is right if it maximizes overall utility or minimizes overall disutility
- Practical problems
1. Rider if no one gets caught and no one else finds out = happiness because
nobody knows what you did therefore that seems like the right thing to do.
2. Special duties disregards family or friends,
- Relationship problems,
3. Problems of justice in favor of justice to kill one person to save the lives of
4 other people. Person never did anything wrong so why the consequence for
that person? Seems to license an innocent minority for the sake of the
majority. If you can maximize utility for the rest of us, by killing one person,
than it seems “fair’ therefore injustice because people should be sacrificed for
4. Theoretical problems
AU – principle of utility right actions
RULE UTILITARIANISM- principle of utility Moral rules right actions explain
which rules we ought to follow and which rules we shouldn’t. When it comes to
actions, the right thing to do is to follow the rules. FOLLOW RULES.
POU determines whether a moral rules is genuine or spurious
A moral rule whose general observance tends to maximize utility or minimize
disutility is genuine
RU is able to escape problems that AU has.
Is it morally permissible for a RU to steal food to feed the starving children?
NO – the RU seems to fetishize rules
YES – RU falls back into AU
Utilitarianism – rightness/wrongness is based on consequences
Deontology: consequences are morally irrelevant. The right thing to do could have
horrible consequences or the wrong thing to do could have great consequences.
Consequences simply don’t matter – Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
CONDITIONES FOR MORAL ACTIONS
Must have right intentions – you must intend to do the right thing
Must have the right motives – you must do it for the right reason
What is the right motives for actions according to Kant? Three men have the opportunity to commit adultery all 3 decide not to do it.
1 – worried about getting caught
2 – loves his wife and doesn’t want to cause her pain
3 – *recognizes that adultery is wrong*
According to Kant, only the third man was morally correct
The third man doesn’t do it because it is wrong, even if we can guarantee it that his
wife will not find out. The reason why he doesn’t do it is because he recognizes that
it is wrong.
An action is only moral if it is the right thing
For an action to have moral worth, an agent must do the right thing because it is the
right thing to do
A person must act from the motive of duty
- A person must be motivated by respect for the moral law
How do we determine what we should and should not do?
MAXIM – a general principle which specifies how I conceive of an actions and my
reason for doing it
EX. If I am hungry, I will eat. – my hunger is enough for me to eat
If I want people to trust me, I will keep my promises – my desire for people to trust
me is enough for me to keep my promises
If lying to a patient will prevent distress to them I will lie to them – the desire to
prevent distress in a patient is good enough a reason to lie to them
If I have the opportunity to commit adultery without being caught, I will do it
The categorical Imperative (CI)
- Universal law formulation
- I ought never to act except in such a way that I can also will that my act
will become a universal law moral rules/laws are supposed to be
universal if a maxim cannot be universalized, therefore not a genuine rule.
MAXIM- if I can commit adultery without being caught, I will do so.
- If everyone makes it their policy to commit adultery, there is NO ADULTERY.
- If there were no marriages, there would be no adultery.
- Cancels itself out. AND THUS CANNOT BE A GENUINE RULE
- The maxim which licenses negates itself
CI UNIVERSAL LAW FORMULATION
Maxim : if I can steal without being caught, I will do so
- if everyone can steal, the possession of property will not exist
if everyone makes it their policy to steal , theft would be impossible / cancels itself
when universalized this maxim negates itself maxim – if my contacts allow me