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Rule Utilitarianism.docx

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McMaster University
Religious Studies
Stefan Rodde

Monday, September 16, 2013 Rule Utilitarianism AU - Principle of utility - Right action RU - Principle of utility - Moral rules - Right action Rule utilitarianism - POU determines whether a moral rule is genuine/spurious - A moral rule whose general observance tends to maximize utility or minimize disutility - In the situation with rock climbing with a stranger and a friends – RU would say you have a special obligations to our friends and family - Right set of rules to follow maximize utility – not the right thing to do it doesn’t do good - Rules we recognize, meant to justify them and why they are appropriate - EX. Physicians have an obligation to save everyone’s lives, despite their status - EX. Bus Company used the honour system, is it wrong to take a free ride? o Rule says pay for your services, don’t take a free ride - EX. 5 patients dying, take one healthy one and save all 5 or let 1 live and let all 5 die o Thou shall not kill: rule says don’t kill, other’s will just “die” without am actual doing Problems with RU - EX. You take care of a lg. number of kids. The kids are hungry and there is no way that you will be able to feed them unless you steal food. Is it morally permissible to steal food to feed the starving kids? o Don’t let kids starve, and don’t steal are different rules telling us to do two different things o How can you follow rules when it doesn’t maximize utility o If it is okay to break the rules sometimes, if it conflicts … just going back to AU o No: the RU seems to fetishize rules o YES: RU falls back into AU Deontological Ethics Utilitarianism: rightness/wrongness is based on consequences Deontology: consequences are morally irrelevant, no consequences Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) Deontology - Conditions for moral action o Right intentions: you must intend to do the right thing o Right motives: you must do it for the right reason Right Motive - EX. 3 menstave the opportunity to commit adultery o 1 mnd: decided not to because he’ll get caught o 2 man: loves his wife, doesn’t want to cause her pain o 3 man: doesn’t do it because he recognizes that adultery is wrong  3 man had the right intentions  from a moral stand point st nd  1 and 2 man: only doing it because of guilt (if he didn’t get caught, she doesn’t get hurt by not finding out) - 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 o A person must be motivated by respect for the moral law Right Intentions - How do we determine what we should and shouldn’t do? - Maxim: a general principle which specifics how I conceive of an action and my reason for doing it o If I am hungry, I will eat o If I want people to trust me, I will keep my promises o If lying to a patient will prevent them distress, I will lie to them o If I have the opportunity to commit adultery without being caught, I will do it - I can formulate a maxim for every action which I can perform - Which maxims should I follow? o How do I determine which maxims represent genuine ethical rules  Using the Categorical Imperative CI Categorical Imperative CI (3 parts) - something you must follow all the time Universal Law Formulation - I ought never to act except in such a way that I can also will that my act should become a universal law o Moral rules (laws) are supposed to be universal o If a maxim cannot be universalized, it is not a genuine rule and so shouldn’t be followed - EX. A man has the opportunity to cheat on his wife without being caught, but has enough self control to ask whether such an action would be morally right o Maxim: If I can commit adultery, without being caught, I will do so o Should we follow this maxim? To answer this we ask what would happen if everyone made it their policy to commit adultery  if everyone makes it their policy to commit adultery, there would be no adultery  Marriage is a restrictive sexual relationship  If everyone made it their policy to commit adultery, there would be no marriages  If there were no marriages, there would not be adultery
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