Utilitarianism the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

the Good, the Bad, the Ugly
Utilitarianism: the idea that the
moral worth of an action is
determined solely by its
usefulness in maximizing utility
and minimizing negative utility
as summed among all sentient
“The idea of utilitarianism is
simple: the fundamental
guidelines for moral discourse
are pleasure and pain.”
“Utilitarianism’s foundation
consists largely of the simple
assertion that happiness, all
other things being equal, is
better than unhappiness.”
“Boundless empathy is what
utilitarianism is.”
Act and Rule Utilitarianism
Act Utilitarianism:
States that the right action is
the one which produces the
greatest amount of happiness
or pleasure for the greatest
number of beings.
Actions are judged in terms of
the goodness of their
consequences without
reference to rules of action
Rule Utilitarianism:
States that actions are moral
when they conform to the rules
that lead to the greatest good
The correctness of a rule is
determined by the amount of
good it brings about when
John Stuart Mill
Utilitarianism (book)
“greatest-happiness principle” - one
must always act so as to produce
the greatest aggregate happiness
among all sentient beings, within
It is not the agent’s own greatest
happiness that matters “but the
greatest amount of happiness
Mill believes that utility is human
Every human being desires
happiness because every thing a
human being desires is desired for
its pleasure
John Stuart Mill
Separation of pleasures
Argues that intellectual and
moral pleasures are superior to
more physical forms of pleasure
Defines the difference between
higher and lower forms of
happiness with the principle
that those who have
experienced both tend to prefer
one over the other.
“simple pleasures” tend to be
preferred by people who have
no experience with high art, and
are therefore not in a proper
position to judge
Bernard Williams
Against utilitarianism
There is a crucial moral
distinction between a person
being killed by me, and being
killed by someone else because
of an act or omission of mine.
The utilitarian loses that vital
distinction, turning us into
empty vessels by means of
which consequences occur,
rather than preserving our
status as moral actors and
Argued that moral decisions
must preserve our
psychological identity and
Thank You! :)