Defining Rule utilitarianism - Essay Example

Comments (0) Cite this document
Rule utilitarianism is a kind of utilitarianism which defines if an action should be considered to be ethical or not based on the idea of rule that the majority of the people has been following (Smart, 1973, 9). Hospers presents three examples of ethical dilemma. The first of…
Download full paperFile format: .doc, available for editing
GRAB THE BEST PAPER94.9% of users find it useful
Defining Rule utilitarianism
Read TextPreview

Extract of sample "Defining Rule utilitarianism"

Defining Rule utilitarianism Rule utilitarianism is a kind of utilitarianism which defines if an action should be considered to be ethical or not based on the idea of rule that the majority of the people has been following (Smart, 1973, 9). Hospers presents three examples of ethical dilemma. The first of them is focused on the following situation: ten people are stuck in a cave. They have two options: kill a fat man to safe nine of them of not kill him and all ten will die eventually. The second example deals with lying. Thus, people always have an option of lying or refraining from this activity as there is no strict rule about that. Finally, Hospers brings up the last example when people vote. Thus, on an election day people may or may not be willing to go and vote. The first example might be considered to be an objection to act utilitarianism since according to it killing the fat man would be quite useful for the group of people, but the majority of people would agree on the fact that killing is wrong. The second example also shows that act utilitarianism might be regarded as a false approach: it is true that sometimes for a particular individual lying might bring considerable more benefits that tell the truth; however, the society condemns lying. Finally, the third example may also be regarded as a valid claim that rebuts act utilitarianism. According to the latter, it would be more ethical not to vote for a person, but it is quite obvious that such approach would ruin the legal system.
Rule utilitarianism would provide a different solution for this problem. In case of the fat man, it would encourage people to let that man live. The reason for this is quite simple: it is generally accepted that killing other people is not an ethical action. That is why killing the person in question will violate the general rule which contributed to the security in the society. In the second example about lying, rule utilitarianism would urge a person to tell a truth even though it might be some problems. The logic behind it is rather simple: the social life is being productive and stable because people generally do not lie to each other. That is why if people chose to make an exception from that rule, they might undermine the very foundation of the society. Finally, in the example of voting, rule utilitarianism would encourage people to go and vote in spite of the fact that they may not be willing as if all the other people chose not to vote this is likely to break the democratic system and result in the collapse of the government.
In my opinion rule utilitarianism is much better theory as act utilitarianism because the latter is likely to bring chaos as the consequences of it are not controlled and might contributed to the destruction of the entire system of human relationships while rule utilitarianism is oriented at preserving the harmony among people.
Smart, J. (1973). Utilitarianism; for and against. Cambridge: University Press. Read More
Cite this document
  • APA
  • MLA
(“Defining Rule utilitarianism Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 500 words”, n.d.)
Retrieved from
(Defining Rule Utilitarianism Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 500 Words)
“Defining Rule Utilitarianism Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 500 Words”, n.d.
  • Cited: 0 times
Comments (0)
Click to create a comment or rate a document

CHECK THESE SAMPLES OF Defining Rule utilitarianism

John Stuart Mill: Utilitarianism and Pleasure

...determining the general welfare. Mill’s Utilitarianism also dealt with the principles of both scientific and democratic law, to be further used as a ground in legal judgment. The Experience of Pleasure in Morality and Ideals Because of these differences, historians of philosophy have classified Bentham as an “Act Utilitarian” and Mill as a “Rule Utilitarian”. (Driver, 2009) In this context, it is easier to understand and evaluate criticisms of Bentham for being a “pleasure seeker” or hedonist as charged by his contemporaries. The hedonist values pleasure as the highest good, yet in doing so can easily define and justify an individual or collective path...
5 Pages(1250 words)Essay

Act and Rule Utilitarianism

...Act Vs Rule Utilitarianism Basic Definitions Act Utilitarianism is the most basic form of utilitarianism. It s that "our duty on any occasion isto act in the way which will produce actual overall consequences better than (or at least as good as) those that any other act open to us would produce." (Smart 1967) Rule Utilitarianism states that "our duty is not to aim for that act which will produce in fact the best overall consequences (because of the impossibility or impracticability of predicting these) but to follow that rule which would have the best consequences if generally followed." (Brody 1967) Discussion As one can see, both follow the utilitarian dogma that something good must come in the end. Act utilitarianism focuses... on the...
1 Pages(250 words)Essay

Utilitarianism included in the assessment of utility; and 3) The right actions promote what is good for society. The elements of utilitarianism are: 1) concept of happiness, 2) impartiality, 3) consequentialism, and 4) balance of good and bad consequences. Utilitarianism values happiness or utility, which is defined as “pleasure and freedom from pain.” Utilitarianism further places high priority on impartiality, because we should all be impartial to each other’s happiness. Each of us is considered as holding one utility, whatever our social classes and positions, and other defining characteristics maybe. Furthermore, utilitarianism is...
4 Pages(1000 words)Essay


...A DETAILED COMPARISON BETWEEN ACT AND RULE UTILITARIANISM Ethics is an area of study that comprises countless theories, based on doctrines of performing individual acts either right or wrong and good or bad. Utilitarianism is a common example of theory of ethics. Utilitarianism theory, introduced by Jeremy Bentham, prescribes a single value system and a mode of consequentialism and absolutism, getting the best out of good outcomes for people in shape of pleasure and happiness. Mostly utilitarian theories might seek taking full advantage of other consequences, dealing with the welfare of people. Therefore, utilitarianism is often related...
2 Pages(500 words)Essay


...Week 4 paper assignment Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that advocates for the good of members of the society. It offers a basis for determiningmorality based on consequences. As a result, an act or rule that leads to more social good than wrong is termed ethical while an act or rule whose net consequence elicit bad impacts is considered immoral. The doctrine of utilitarianism rest on the worldview of maximizing benefits for all members of the society. As a result, the theory views actions from its impacts on involved stakeholders (Custodio, DVD). Utilitarian theory identifies a number of ethical principles. One of such principles is autonomy that...
2 Pages(500 words)Essay


... Utilitarianism Relationship between Utilitarian and pertinent issues (i.e. right-to-work, fairness in advertising) Utilitarian ethics focuses on the practicality of the utility being focused on and the maximization of benefits. Pertinent issues in society are based on the concept of the end product and how practical it is or whether it will reduce suffering of the human being. These issues for example justice, fairness and rights among others are what the society is concerned about. Through utilitarian ethics, these pertinent issues gain justification and are seen to have great importance to humans (Smith 13). Everyone has a right to work as it is a means to an end and it reduces the suffering. When people are accorded this right... , they...
1 Pages(250 words)Essay


...happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (as cited in Bykvist, 2010, p.21). As per the Utilitarian view, an action that would give happiness to greatest number of people is supportable even if it may physically or mentally harm some other people but fewer in numbers. One of the major criticisms against the Utilitarianism is that this philosophical theory fails to define what will maximize happiness. Opponents claim that the notion of happiness may vary from person to person in accordance with their moral beliefs. In the words of Taranovsky (2003), another central concept of this moral theory is that one person’s happiness should never be more important than that...
5 Pages(1250 words)Essay

Act and rule utilitarianism

...inserts his/her full Act and Rule utilitarianism The theory of Utilitarianism is based on the premise that individual’s course of action should be evaluated in terms of the costs and benefits that will be imposed on the society as a result of those actions. Thus, according to this view, the correct course of action is one that maximizes the net benefit to the society. This is done when the costs are minimized and the benefits are maximized. As Rachel sums it up, the Utilitarianism view inherently judges whether an action of morally good or bad by its consequences, and then, assesses these consequences solely by the amount of utility or happiness derived (Rachels). When...
2 Pages(500 words)Essay


...Utilitarianism Question The core principle of utilitarianism s that “actions are right in proportion as theytend to promote overall human happiness”. Utilitarianism is the ethical act of maximum utilization of morals. In turn, it produces positive benefits and at the same time, reducing the negative effects (Mosser, 2013). This leads to the question of how one can know where his/her actions are moral or just. Needless to say, the first one is judgment through a court of law. Secondly is one’s consciousness feeling guilty and resentment on the cause of action (Koritansky,2011). Utilitarianism extends to political ethics which introduces the problem of tyranny of...
1 Pages(250 words)Assignment


..., one may be of the assumption that the pleasure and wants of the majority may determine the morality of ones actions. However, if other factors such as truth are disregarded an action may be justified regardless of the morality and the perception of the majority. Work Cited West, Henry. Utilitarianism. n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2014. ... Does the end justify the means? The morality of our decision making and actions is determined by the perception on morality in the majority of people. The creation of morality does not respect personal opinion (West Par5). However, people may disregard the perception of people and take actions as they feel may please them. Does the end justify the actions and means of a person? This argument may vary from one event ...
1 Pages(250 words)Assignment
sponsored ads
We use cookies to create the best experience for you. Keep on browsing if you are OK with that, or find out how to manage cookies.

Let us find you another Essay on topic Defining Rule utilitarianism for FREE!

Contact Us