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Detailed account of Classical Utilitarianism

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I explicate Classical Utilitarianism in terms of it's central components: hedonism, consequentialism, and impartiality

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1.1. A moral theory is a form of consequentialism if and only if it assesses acts, character traits, institutions, etc, as right or wrong solely in terms of the consequences brought about, that is, in terms of the attainment of a certain goal or end.

1.2 Classical Utilitarianism is a version of ACT CONSEQUENTIALISM, because it says that the moral status of an action is determined by its outcomes.

> Contrast a teleological theory of virtue.

1.3 Acts are judged right or wrong solely in virtue of the consequences they bring about.


The Principle of Utility is therefore to be understood as a criterion of rightness.

An act is right if and only if it tends to promote happiness

This means that the concepts of blameworthiness and praiseworthiness must be kept distinct from rightness and wrongness.

E.g.: You intend to do some good, but, through some unfortunate twist of fate, bring about bad. In this circumstance you will have acted wrongly, though you are not blameworthy for the act.

1.4 The Consequences relevant in assessing the rightness of an action are to be understood as the non-moral value (or disvalue) brought about by the act.

For example, does the action cause an increase in pleasure?

1.5 The moral rightness of the action depends on the non-moral value of the consequences.


2.1 Consequentialist moral theories define right action in terms of the bringing about a certain state of affairs with a particular non-moral value (or disvalue).

2.2 Consequentialist moral ...

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