What is the significance of utilitarianism? - Quora

Short essay comparing two forms of utilitarianism: rule-utilitarianism and act-utilitarianism.

Act and Rule Utilitarianism Flashcards | Quizlet

Because this account of duty defines the rightness and wrongness ofan act, not in terms of its utility, as act utilitarianism does, but interms of the utility of applying sanctions to the conduct, it is anindirect form of utilitarianism. Because justice is a species of duty,it inherits this indirect character (also see Lyons 1994). Because itmakes the deontic status of conduct depend upon the utility ofsanctioning that conduct in some way, we might call this conception ofduty, justice, and rights sanction utilitarianism. Becausesanction utilitarianism is a species of indirect utilitarianism, it isinconsistent with act utilitarianism. The introduction of indirectutilitarian ideas in Chapter V of Utilitarianism into anaccount of utilitarianism that otherwise looks act utilitarian revealsa fundamental tension in Mill's thought about duty.

Keywords: act utilitarianism essay, problems with rule utiliariansim

Given Mill's ambivalence between direct and indirect utilitarianism,it is natural to inquire whether one view is more plausible than theother. Some of Mill's claims in Chapter V suggest a possible advantagethat sanction utilitarianism might have. In articulating sanctionutilitarianism, Mill claims that it allows him to distinguish duty andexpediency and claim that not all inexpedient acts are wrong;inexpedient acts are only wrong when it is good or optimal to sanctionthem. This suggests that sanction utilitarianism may be preferable toact utilitarianism, because it has a more plausible account of therelation among different deontic categories.

Consequentialism also might be supported by an inference to thebest explanation of our moral intuitions. This argument mightsurprise those who think of consequentialism as counterintuitive, butin fact consequentialists can explain many moral intuitions thattrouble deontological theories. Moderate deontologists, for example,often judge that it is morally wrong to kill one person to save fivebut not morally wrong to kill one person to save a million. They neverspecify the line between what is morally wrong and what is not morallywrong, and it is hard to imagine any non-arbitrary way fordeontologists to justify a cutoff point. In contrast,consequentialists can simply say that the line belongs wherever thebenefits outweigh the costs (including any bad sideeffects). Similarly, when two promises conflict, it often seems clearwhich one we should keep, and that intuition can often be explained bythe amount of harm that would be caused by breaking each promise. Incontrast, deontologists are hard pressed to explain which promise isoverriding if the reason to keep each promise is simply that it wasmade (Sinnott-Armstrong 2009). If consequentialists can betterexplain more common moral intuitions, then consequentialism might havemore explanatory coherence overall, despite being counterintuitive insome cases. (Compare Sidgwick 1907, Book IV, Chap. III; and Sverdlik2011.) And even if act consequentialists cannot argue in this way, itstill might work for rule consequentialists (such as Hooker 2000).

ACT v. RULE UTILITARIANISM - Mesa Community College

Hospers, John. “Rule-Utilitarianism.” In Moral Philosophy: A Reader, edited by Louis P. Pojman, 3rd edition. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2003.


Mill's utilitarian justification of secondary principles is intendedas a contrast with the intuitionism of William Whewell and others. Ashe makes clear in his essay “Whewell on MoralPhilosophy”(CW X), Mill thinks that the intuitionistwrongly treats familiar moral precepts as ultimate moral factors whosejustification is supposed to be self-evident. By contrast, Mill'saccount of secondary principles recognizes their importance in moralreasoning but insists that they are neither innate nor infallible; theyare precepts that have been adopted and internalized because of theiracceptance value, and their continued use should be suitably regulatedby their ongoing comparative acceptance value. Far from underminingutilitarian first principles, Mill thinks, appeal to the importance ofsuch moral principles actually provides support for utilitarianism.

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In general, both act and rural utilitarianism aim at establishing how one can be able to judge different actions to achieve moral values. However, rural utilitarianism feels that their concept is much better as the act utilitarianism is traditional and the rural captures the aspect of the good of the university quite well. Therefore, the main argument lies in getting the results that will have the best consequences on the people other than one which is likely to have the same results.

Essay: Act and Rule utilitarianism

Rule utilitarianism aims at justifying the significance of putting human goods into account, which act utilitarianism does fully consider in their application of their theory. Since according to the rule an individual is supposed to judge an action by the consequences it poses to the general public and not by its own consequences. Considering the human goods while judging an act, will help use the concept of the universe as a whole into context. This means that the principle of utility is being promoted and this is the inspiration behind the development of the theories. In one of his explanations Hospers (160) uses the example of criminality and justice concerning how judgment is delivered. He goes to explain that the decision made by judge is according to the justice system, which was created for the greater good of the universe. In turn the results achieved will aim at achieving integral human fulfillment.