If adopting the rule “do not lie” results in better consequences for general welfare than the rule “lie
whenever you like” then the rule utilitarianism would adopt the rule “do not lie”
Difference is that rule util is willing to accept that individual actions can cause more harm than good, but
if following the rule on balance produces more good then the individual harm is justified.
E.g. of this difference – if a friend has a large, disfiguring mark on his face and asks if it is noticeable, the
kind lie that it is not noticeable might protect his feelings. Overall, however, lying would lead to an
inability of people to know when to trust what anyone said. So the rule util would argue that the
individual pain caused by telling the person the truth about his face is on balance, out weighted by the
good of truth-telling.
Criticism of utilitarianism
Problem of Defining goods - what is good for one person is not necessarily good for another. Maximizing
good for all may only apply to the lowest common denominator of goods and never approach higher-order
goods and values that are unimportant to the avg. person.
Problem with means-to-ends justification - What if torturing an innocent child indefinitely could end
world poverty? The Util would have to accept the torture of the chid. Doesn’t seem right?
Paradox of the Harms - In Act Util. by looking at each act separately you may not see the overall impact
of harm. Rule util. if obeying the rule that optimizes welfare, you may in fact do harm to some people
An action is moral, independent of its consequences and based solely on purely rational ethical belief,
derived through the reason that is available to all mature, intelligent, reasoning human beings.
Kant believed that God had provided all human beings with the same rational faculties, moral laws
derived through reason are universal and absolute.
Kant believed that the practical implications was that, when thinking about moral act, one had to
consider whether it could be universalized as an action and further, that in considering human beings,
one should always treat them as ends in the themselves, not as means to some other end.
Counterintuitive Aspect – 9 seats on a lifeboat but there are 10ppl. Kant says life cannot be used as a
means to an end, therefore all 10 should die instead of one dying and 9 living.
KANT – Categorical Imperative – if everyone did what I am thinking of doing, would there be any point in
doing it? Can you still achieve what your trying to do? (e.g. cheating on a test to get a higher mark)
If the answer is NO ( cant achieve) then its wrong (not moral)