Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

 

THE UTILITARIAN SCHOOL

Nnamdi Ebo 2Lawyer Zone  | By Nnamdi Ebo | The Utilitarian School.

 Theory of Law.

Utilitarianism is the doctrine that the useful is the good; especially as elaborated by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill; the aim was said to be the greatest happiness for the greatest number. This was was described by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) as “the greatest happiness or greatest felicity principle”.84 Utility, the good to be maximized, has been defined by various thinkers as happiness or pleasure (versus suffering or pain), although preference utilitarians define it as the satisfaction of preferences. It may be described as a life stance, with happiness or pleasure being of ultimate importance. Utilitarianism can be characterised as a quantitative and reductionist approach to ethics. In general usage, the term utilitarian refers to a somewhat narrow economic or pragmatic viewpoint. Philosophical utilitarianism, however, is a much broader view that encompasses all aspects of people’s life. Utilitarianism and act utilitarianism are from the Greek word for “end”, “purpose”, or “goal”) meaning that they are consequential, however Bentham’s act utilitarianism is primarily absolutist, even though it is much more free than theories such as those put forward by Immanuel Kant. There are definite rules and codes as to what a person must do in some situations to benefit most of the people.

Types of Utilitarianism

Act v. rule (Act utilitarianism v. Rule utilitarianism)

This first type of Utilitarianism (Act utilitarianism) states that, when faced with a choice, we must first consider the likely consequences of potential actions and, from that, choose to do what we believe will generate the most pleasure. The rule utilitarian, on the other hand, begins by looking at potential rules of action. To determine whether a rule should be followed, he or she looks at what would happen if it were constantly followed. If adherence to the rule produces more happiness than otherwise, it is a rule that morally must be followed at all times. The second type of Utilitarianism (Rule utilitarianism) has been criticized for advocating general rules that, in some specific circumstances, clearly decrease happiness if followed. Never to kill another human being may seem to be a good rule, but it could make self-defense against malevolent aggressors very difficult.

Rule utilitarians add, however, that there are general exception rules that allow the breaking of other rules if such rule-breaking increases happiness, one example being self-defense. Critics argue that this reduces rule utilitarianism to act utilitarianism and makes rules meaningless. Rule utilitarians retort that rules in the legal system (i.e., laws) that regulate such situations are not meaningless. Self-defense is legally justified, while murder is not. Find below a vivid illustration & graphic table of Act utilitarianism v. Rule utilitarianism.

___________________________________

84. Jeremy Bentham , An Introduction to the Principles of Morals & Legislation,  1789 (“printed” in 1780, “first published” in 1789, “corrected by the Author” in 1823.) See Chapter I: Of the Principle of Utility.
85ACT UTILITARIANISM VERSUS RULE UTILITARIANISM

Example of Act Utilitarianism

The Ethical Question:  Should Ibrahim and I (Nnamdi) hack into Demola’s computer, just to see if we can do it (i.e., but not harm Demola’s computer)?

Step 1:  List everyone affected by the action.

                        Step 2:  Find out (either by directly asking someone or by using your moral imagination) how much

                                     pleasure and/or pain will be involved for every person affected by the action.

Step 3:  Do that action that maximizes happiness for the persons affected by the action.

YES

Nnamdi

Ibrahim

Demola

Total

Grand Total

Amount of Pleasure

+8

0

0

+8

Amount of Pain

0

-6

0

-6

YES: +2

NO

Amount of Pleasure

0

+2

0

+2

Amount of Pain

-8

0

0

-8

NO: -6

 

Result:  More pleasure results from doing the action; therefore, we should do the action.

Examples of RULE Utilitarianism

The Ethical Question (Simple Example):  I have made a promise to meet a friend who is on his deathbed; should I keep my promise?

Step 1:  Think about the KIND or type of action that the action is.

Step 2:  Ponder different rules, considering whether they maximize happiness in general.

Step 3:  Do that action based on a rule that maximizes happiness in general (not necessarily for this action right now).

This action involves promise keeping, and the rule of keeping promises in general maximizes happiness.

Result:  Since the rule of keeping promises IN GENERAL maximizes happiness (whether or not it does do that today in this action), I should keep my promise.

The Ethical Question (Complex Example):  I have made a promise to meet a friend who is on his deathbed; on my way to meet him, I find a woman who is wounded (but curable)

and needs my help (no one else is around).  Should I keep my promise?

These actions involve either promise keeping or helping others, and both keeping promises and helping others maximize happiness in general.  Thus, we are faced with a dilemma (see below).

Result:  EITHER:  On can argue that, since helping the woman is an immediate matter of life and death, and the rule of helping others maximizes happiness IN GENERAL, I should help the woman.  OR:  One could argue that the rule of keeping promises maximizes happiness, and keep his or her promise.  Problem:  If we pick the action that maximizes happiness IN THIS CASE, aren’t we back to Act Utilitarianism which makes Rule Utilitarianism pointless?  And if we can just pick either rule and be a rule utilitarian, then Rule Utilitarianism is arbitrary – it allows you to do whatever action you wish, as long as you can come up with a rule that seems to maximize happiness in general.

___________________________________

85. Source: Mesa Community College 1833 West Southern, Mesa, AZ USA 85202 www.mesacc.edu – [Nigerian names are used for convenience]

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Legal Method . Book CoverCulled from: Legal Method  | Author: Nnamdi Ebo  |  Published by LawLords Publications  |  ISBN: 978-978-49827-9-6  | 1st Edition 2012

Buy the book, Legal Method  |  Click  Bookshop

Nnamdi Ebo [email protected]  |  © 2014 Nnamdi Ebo . All Rights Reserved

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

49,014 Spam Comments Blocked so far by Spam Free Wordpress

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>