Key Points


Recently added (2012):

Strengths and Weaknesses of Utilitarianism

Revision PDF (or Word)

The Notes below are very similar to the theory and criticisms on this website - they're just easier to print out. Teachers may wish to download the Word document and make alterations/additions.


The file 'Utilitarianism evaluates' looks at key aspects of the theory, with positive and negative criticism of each point. As always, merely reading someone else's thoughts is the hardest way to develop your own thinking. Students are encouraged to evaluate the theory for themselves first before seeing my thoughts on it.

Utilitarianism evaluated

Using Bentham's Hedonic Calculus for actual calculations is always tricky. The resource below is simply a scale for each aspect of the calculus. Remember if you're choosing between two courses of action, you need to do the calculation twice to make a comparison. You can use any numbers you like - scores out of 10, 100 etc, and positive and negative values. If you have difficulty giving values to pain or working out how to add up the negative figure of, say, hundreds of thousands of people 'disgruntled' by a new law on genetics, use this as a criticism of the calculus itself (pleasure/pain is unpredictable, immeasurable and incalculable - three separate criticisms).

Bentham's Hedonic Calculus


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