Chapter # 7: The Utilitarian Approach
7.1The Revolution in Ethics
- late 18 and 19 centuries = French revolution, American Civil War, industrial
- times changing, new ideas about liberty, equality, fraternity.
- new ideas about ethics emerging as well.
- The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and
legislation. – Jeremy Bentham (Collected Works, 1843).
- Revolutionary idea
- Principle of Utility = requires us to produce the most happiness we can.
- Utilitarian Approach radical: no references to God, moral rules, faithfulness,
- Jeremy Bentham and John
7.2 First Example: Euthanasia
- Sigmund Freud suffering from cancer, inoperable, no more good days.
- asks friend and physician to end his life and suffering, friend does.
- friend loved him and trying to end suffering, also obeying Freud’s wishes.
- Christianity says: Life = gift from God, only God chooses when to end it.
- church allows capital punishment and killing in war as exceptions.