Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism

1. What is the Principle of Utility?

2. What is Hedonism?

3. Give two similarities and two differences between the utilitarian views of Bentham and Mill.

4. Explain the difference between act and rule utilitarianism.

5. Using your own example, explain how performing an action that maximizes utility could be a morally wrong action. (In other words, provide a refutation of act utilitarianism)

6. Using your own example, explain how a rule that maximizes utility in a society could be a morally wrong rule. (In other words, provide a refutation of rule utilitarianism)

7. Explain how Mill revises Bentham’s quantitative “calculus of felicity” to include the quality of higher pleasures. Do you agree that some pleasures are of a higher quality? Explain.

8. Explain the main problems with utilitarianism: including the problem of motives, difficulty of predicting consequences, violation of rights and duties, radical self sacrifice (Peter Singer), falsity of hedonism.

Kant (duty oriented morality)

9. Explain the distinction between autonomy vs heteronomy.

10. Explain the distinction between duty vs inclination.

11. Explain the distinction between hypothetical vs categorical imperatives.

12. What is Kant’s criterion for moral acceptability of a maxim (principle), according to the universalizability formulation of the categorical imperative? Give an example of a maxim (principle) that satisfies Kant’s criterion and explain why the maxim you pick would be morally acceptable for Kant.

13. What does the respect formulation of the categorical imperative command?

14. Explain why illegally downloading movies is a violation of the first formulation of the categorical imperative. (Be careful, the ultimate reason should not refer to any consequences.)

15. Say I come upon a red light with my wife who is just staring to give birth. There is nobody around and the faster I get her to the hospital the better. What would an act utilitarian most likely say I should do, and why? What would a rule utilitarian say I should do and why?

16. Say John lies to Mary in order to have sex with her. Using Kant’s, Third Version of the Categorical Imperative, explain why that is morally wrong.

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