Act Absolutism And Rule-Utilitarianism

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In considering utilitarian literature, two forms of utilitarianism have emerged in the mid-20th century: act-utilitarianism and rule-utilitarianism. These two forms of utilitarianism are often contrasted due to the difference in their application of the greatest happiness principle which states that "an act is right insofar as it produces the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people" (Elements 72)." • Firstly, act-utilitarianism applies the principle directly on a particular action for a single event. In this case, act-utilitarianism maintains that the morality of an action depends on its consequences. An action is right as it produces the greatest amount of happiness, wrong as it produces less happiness or pain. • Rule-utilitarianism,…show more content…
1. Firstly, act-utilitarianism allows for brutal acts so long as they produce more overall happiness. In act-utilitarianism, the morally correct decision is the one that produces the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. In Winston's case, it means that breaking a promise is not only morally permissible, but required under the greatest happiness principle even though it is clearly wrong. This also implies that act-utilitarianism can also approve of any kind of action, (e.g. murder, rape, and torture) so long as it promotes the greater good. 2. Secondly, act-utilitarianism compromises trust and relationships. For example, if everyone were to break their promises or lie if they stand to produce more happiness out of it, no one would be expected to keep their promises, which would make it difficult to maintain relationships and trust others. This, in turn, leads to a breakdown of trust in…show more content…
1. Rule-utilitarianism avoids the first objection in that while more good may be done in certain situations where a person is permitted to lie, murder, rape, and/or torture others on an individual level, it is unlikely that creating a rule which allows these actions will promote the greater good should everyone follow it. 2. It also avoids the second objection of compromising trust and relationships as well. Because rule-utilitarianism is committed to following these moral rules, it enables people to trust each other because it allows for some level of predictability in everyone's actions. For example, if everyone were to follow the moral rule, "do not break promises", Winston can expect his friends not to break their

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