Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Act vs. Rule Utilitarianism

One thing about utilitarianism is that it has a split between two variations. Utilitarianism is a method of applying moral ethics in which you chose the outcome that has the maximized benefit, regardless of means. This means that it is okay to use somewhat question means at any time if it will generate a result that betters the greater good. However as pointed out in class, almost everyone can argue that their situation will better others if they are pushed a necessity of doing so. As a result it would make a chaotic mass of exceptions where everyone found their own reasons to ignore rules. Traffic lights for instance would be one of the areas where this would fail. As a result of this critique arising, a newer form of utilitarianism was conceived. Rule Utilitarianism is when a rule is set that obeys the standards of utilitarianism but then it is followed and adhered to regardless of circumstance. I found this split to be interesting because it comes down to whether you believe in absolute justice or lenient justice. If we keep letting one person slide the past the rules every time, then this world falls into chaos. How do we know if what are doing is or isn’t fair and just? In what way must we go about judging ourselves and others? Where is this world going?

1 comment:

Thad said...

The traffic light thing is a great example of how act utilitarianism fails. I think there are a few cases where act utilitarianism is better than rule utilitarianism, however. It is always breaking the law to murder someone, for example, but on rare occasions murdering someone could save many more lives. If a person did this they would be breaking the law and violating rule utilitarianism, but they would be following act utilitarianism and, arguably, be committing the most moral action they could by saving so many lives.