Rule and Act Utilitrianism

Ethics for Healthcare Professionals Mill’s Utilitarianism Question. Explain rule utilitarianism. How does it differ from act utilitarianism? Do you think that Mill is a rule utilitarian or act utilitarianism? John Stuart Mill was one of the greatest philosophers of the 19th century. Mill was best renowned for his idea of “Utilitarianism. ” Utilitarianism originated from an ethical principle under Jeremy Bentham, who theorized an action is right if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Mill revised the concept of utility and has brought forth “the Greatest Happiness Principle. Utilitarianism as a whole is considered to be any moral theory corresponding to which an action is right in and only if it conforms to the principle of utility, or productiveness. Utilitarianism represents an extension into moral theory of an experimental, scientific mode of reasoning because it involves the calculation of causal consequences.

According to Bentham, an action conforms to the principle of utility if and only if its performance will be more productive of pleasure or happiness, or more preventive of pain or unhappiness, than any alternative. The well being of individuals is the standard of determining what’s right and wrong and the consequences of an action. There are different forms of Utilitarianism, two of which are act-utilitarianism and rule-utilitarianism.

Act utilitarianism is the belief that it is the right action that brings the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. It is a concept that believes that the morality of an action is determined by its usefulness to most of the people that this act is in accordance with the moral rules since it brings greater good or happiness. Also, act utilitarianism measures the consequences of a single act. Act utilitarianism is the view that the principle of utility should be used to morally evaluate individual acts.

Rule utilitarianism on the other hand is the belief that an action can be morally right if it conforms to the rules that will lead to the greatest good or happiness. It adheres to the belief that the correctness of an action is determined by the correctness of its rules and that if the correct rule is followed, the greatest good or happiness is achieved. Also, the rule utilitarianism measures the consequences of the act repeated over and over again through time as if it were to be followed as a rule whenever similar circumstances arise.

Rule utilitarianism is the view that the principle of utility should be used to justify intermediate rules which in turn are used to morally evaluate individual acts. It is a concept that believes that although following the rules does not always produce the greatest good, not following it will not produce the greatest good either. In the end, rule utilitarianism can become act utilitarianism because when breaking a rule produces a greater good, a sub rule can be made to handle exceptions.

Mill theory was rule utilitarianism. Whether Mill was a rule utilitarian is a matter of controversy, he also argues that it is sometimes right to violate general ethical rules: … justice is a name for certain moral requirements, which, regarded collectively, stand higher in the scale of social utility, and are therefore of more paramount obligation, than any others; though particular cases may occur in which some other social duty is so important, as to overrule any one of the general maxims of justice.

Thus, to save a life, it may not only be allowable, but a duty, to steal, or take by force, the necessary food or medicine, or to kidnap, and compel to officiate, the only qualified medical practitioner Other things being equal people are happier if their society follows rules so people know what types of behavior they can expect from others in given situations. Therefore utilitarianism can justify a system that goes, “Keep to the rules unless there is a strong reason for breaking them. “

To sum up, Act utilitarianism is the belief that an action becomes morally right when it produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people, while Rule utilitarianism is the belief that the moral correctness of an action depends on the correctness of the rules that allows it to achieve the greatest good. In addition, act utilitarianism is the belief that it is alright to break a rule as long as it brings a greater good or happiness, while Rule utilitarianism is a belief that even if a rule cannot bring a greater good, breaking it will not either. —————————————————————————- ———————————– Is Mill A Rule Utilitarian? I don’t believe so. I must begin my argument with two definitions and one assumption. First, Rule Utilitarianism states that right action is defined by whether or not a given action is an instance of a moral rule that tends to maximize utility. Second, Act Utilitarianism states that right action is defined by whether or not a given action maximizes utility.

Finally, the Utilitarian Principle holds that right actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. I hope that my assumption will be granted as it is taken verbatim from the text. With these notions as a starting point I believe that I can now show Mill to be an act-utilitarian. The case for Mill being a rule-utilitarian is a strong one. Mill certainly relies heavily on rules in his treatise and argues that they are useful to the point of necessity.

Rule v Act Utilitarianism • Rule-utilitarianism avoids some problems with act-utilitarianism. For example, with act-utilitarianism we should have to give up television for charity work if it was determined that each of our leisure moments would yield greater social benefit if we did charity work instead. • With rule-utilitarianism, a rule prohibiting leisure time is not socially beneficial; hence we are not required to abandon leisure for charity. Under rule-utilitarianism, enslaving someone would be morally wrong if it was determined that a general rule prohibiting slavery was more socially beneficial. • Even if an act of enslaving someone produced more benefit for the slave owners than disbenefit for the slave, the act would still be wrong since it would violate the rule prohibiting slavery. • Rule-utilitarianism creates a new problem: it is conceivable that, on balance, a rule permitting slavery actually produces more benefit for society.