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Explain The Difference Between Bentham's Act Utilitarianism And Mill's Rule Utilitarianism (25)

910 words - 4 pages

Explain the differences between Bentham’s and Mill’s Utilitarianism (25):

Utilitarianism is a consequentialist ethical theory as the consequence of an action or rule is the main principle to judge whether an action is right or wrong. Act Utilitarianism is a teleological theory which was designed by Bentham, states that the act which produces the most pleasure was the most desirable act. Rule Utilitarianism is a deontological theory which was designed by Mill, states that that the act which produces the best act is the most desirable act - – “The greatest happiness for the greatest number”. The principle of utility states that actions are right if they promote pleasure but are wrong if ...view middle of the document...

Bentham believed that circumstances should be taken into account in estimating the value of a pleasure or pain considered with reference to a single person and on its own. For instance, there was a crime committed and the police are holding two suspects in custody but the police know it was not them but could not find the real criminal. Nevertheless they want to close the case quickly. They have two choices – to choose one suspect and charge them with the crime or continue searching for the criminal. Bentham would say that the police should choose one of the suspects and charge them with the crime because that is that would bring the police the most pleasure. Mills, on the other hand, would disagree. He believed that a society’s ‘well-being’ was the most important rather than an individual’s wants/desires. Mill stated that the most important condition for happiness is liberty. People should be free to do as they choose as long as they do not cause harm to others (Harm Principle). Act Utilitarianism focused on the individual’s happiness whereas Rule Utilitarianism emphases on everyone’s happiness.
Furthermore, Bentham argued that the best way to judge whether an action was right was to use the Hedonic Calculus. An action should be judged on the 7 criterias - its purity, remoteness, richness, intensity, certainty and duration. He took the view that following the Hedonic Calculus would benefit the individual and would lead itself to that individual’s greatest happiness. Conversely, Mill reasoned that a set of general rules that everyone should follow to bring about the greatest good for that community. For example, in the UK everyone must drive the left hand side of the road. This rule helps to stop chaos on the roads. In all situations...

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