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Utilitarianism Essay

1347 words - 6 pages

‘Explain how Preference Utilitarianism differs from previous forms of Utilitarianism’ (AO1 30 marks)

Preference Utilitarianism is a modern adaptation of the traditional forms of Utilitarianism; it focuses on determining whether an action is morally right or wrong according to how they fit with the preferences with those involved.
Preference Utilitarianism differs from other forms of utilitarianism because it is solely on the individual person’s interest and their preference to how the situation turns out. It concentrates on the maximisation of people’s preferences, whilst taking into account the consequences of that person’s choice and the effect it has on others. Unlike Bentham and ...view middle of the document...

On the other hand preference differs from ‘Rule Utilitarianism’ because they are no absolute rules given in which everyone should follow equally, instead everyone is equal in terms the ability to chose their preferences. Furthermore it contrasts with Bentham’s ‘Act Utilitarianism’ as Bentham created the ‘hedonic calculus’ which was in order to measure the amount of pleasure produced, therefore Singer would argue that pleasure is immeasurable and incalculable, and pleasure shouldn’t matter, suggesting the moral value of any action is determined by the subjective preferences of the people affected by it. For example if my friends were all on diets and would prefer not to eat cake it would be morally right for me to eat the cake without sharing.
Richard M Hare was an ethicist who introduced preference utilitarianism involving ideas from Immanuel Kant’s ethical theory. For example Hare’s account involves the logic of what we ‘ought’ to do. Hare argued that in moral making decisions we need to consider our preferences and those of others. He states “equal preferences count equally whatever their content,” he thought people would be happy when they get what they preferred. However what we prefer may clash with others’ preferences, Hare defended his theory saying we need to “stand in some else’s shoes and try to imagine what someone else might prefer” therefore treating everyone equally and impartially, suggesting the right thing to do is to attempt to maximise the chance of preferences so that everyone will be satisfied.
In addition Singer also defended Preference Utilitarianism and suggests we should take the viewpoint of an ‘impartial spectator’ meaning the centre of a concept in an ethical system, yet combined with a broadly Utilitarian approach. For example he should take into account all of the people affected by our actions, these have to be weighed and balanced then we must choose the action which gives the best consequences for those involved.
Moreover Singer developed the principle of consideration of preferences or interests acts as a pair of scales meaning everyone’s preferences or interests are weighed equally. Therefore using this example we are able to explain Singers view: killing a person who prefers to live would be wrong and not killing a person who prefers to die is also morally wrong.
Alternatively Singer didn’t suggest that weighing up by preferences will always be successful or should occur every time where a ethical decision should be made, but instead should be the basis for deciding how one should live life, otherwise it would be difficult to decide whose preferences should be considered. Let’s use abortion as an example; Singer suggested the parent might have a clearer preference not to have a handicapped child, a foetus of 18 weeks doesn’t have preferences therefore nothing is weighing against the mother’s preference meaning abortion would be permissible in Preference Utilitarianism. In addition Abortion may be...

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