Utilitarianism

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Related to Act utilitarianism: Rule utilitarianism

Utilitarianism

The philosophy holding that moral actions must provide the greatest good to the greatest number of persons. Utilitarianism emphasizes the consequences of actions when evaluating their morality. For example, a utilitarian may regard a lie to a regulator as moral if it saves 2,000 jobs. Critics of utilitarianism contend that consequences are unknowable and argue that it could be used to defend atrocities. Utilitarians, on the other hand, argue that their philosophy is the best way to improve happiness in the aggregate.
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204) Whether that decision is fair does not matter to the cold calculation of act utilitarianism.
This renders rational egoism and act utilitarianism non-moral because they either make no use of those terms or define them exclusively in terms of their own principles, and stipulatively at that.
These untoward implications have been held by many to constitute a reductio ad absurdum of hedonistic act utilitarianism rather than a weighty consideration in favor of the practice of punishing the innocent or torturing individuals.
A machine might very well have an advantage over a human being in following the theory of act utilitarianism for several reasons: First, human beings tend not to do the arithmetic strictly, but just estimate that a certain action is likely to result in the greatest net good consequences, and so a human being might make a mistake, whereas such error by a machine would be less likely.
Act utilitarianism states that an act is right if it produces at least as great a balance of happiness over unhappiness in its consequences for all people as would any other act available.
In this paper it is shown that total act utilitarianism can be derived from a set of axioms that are (or ought to be) acceptable for anyone subscribing to the basic ideals of consequentialism.