View Full Version : Advanced Susidairy--Religious Studies, Unit 1:

09-15-2010, 07:50 PM
Saalam, this thread will be the beginning of my interactive revision scheme here on PF.

The topics that this unit will cover are as follows:


(it includes other topics such as miracles, problem of evil and war, but i wont cover them, as i am not going to revise for them).

Now the aim of this thread will be to serve as a revision aid for me, and to give you knowledge, your questions in relation to everything that i have written are welcome, and if there is something that concerns you but is off topic, then you are more then welcome to either send me a visitor message or PM, but please don't sabotage my thread (lol).


09-15-2010, 07:53 PM
The first toipc that i will be covering is Utilitarianism:

Deontological ethics-

Deon comes from the Greek and can be defined as duty. Deontological ethics is concerned with the intrinsic nature of acts (meaning that an act is either good or bad in and of itself, like it doesn’t need anything else to be contributed to it to make it good or bad). E.g. of such are the 10 commandments not steal/lie/commit adultery. Deontological ethics is absolutist, and is act/agent centered. In a nutshell it is an approach to ethics that focuses on the rightness or wrongness of actions themselves as opposed to the rightness or wrongness of the consequences of those actions.

Another form of ethics is Teleological-

now this comes from the word ‘telos’ which means goal, aim, purpose, end. This form of ethics is the opposite of deontological, as it believes that the rightness /wrongness of an action is determined by its end, thus it is referred to as relativistic, and is end state centered……basically it doesn’t give a damn whether the act is good or not just so long as the end/consequence is good………thus the end justifies the means. Now in deontological where acts where valued by their intrinsic nature…… teleological……acts are measured by their instrumental value i.e. an act is not good in and of itself but rather it leads to something good. It isn’t naturalistic in outlook and invokes empirical experience and emotions. This form of ethics is consequentionalistic, in the sense that the end is of overriding importance. So basically it’s a theory or morality that derives duty or moral obligation from what is good or desirable as an end to be achieved.

To sum it up:

deontologists- would say stealing is wrong, because it is wrong in and of itself i.e. intrinsically.

Teleological ethicists-would say—stealing is wrong but if it is for a good reason then its fine, so in this instance stealing to feed a starving person is fine……..because the end justifies the means.

So what type of ethicist do you see yourself as?

Aside note: This is the introduction to set the scene for utilitarianism, so that it can put the theory into a context, i will be adding onto this.

شمله ور خراساني
09-15-2010, 08:22 PM
i am doing a minor in moral philosophy. Its very interesting stuff. Keep it coming. We might have an interesting discussion.

09-15-2010, 08:24 PM
i am doing a minor in moral philosophy. Its very interesting stuff. Keep it coming. We might have an interesting discussion.

I hope so, what do you cover in philosophy? Alot of our Religious studies areas are philiosophical as opposed to religious.

شمله ور خراساني
09-15-2010, 08:27 PM
I hope so, what do you cover in philosophy? Alot of our Religious studies areas are philiosophical as opposed to religious.
We cover all of western philosophy. From the pre-socratics to Faucoult and John Rawls.

09-18-2010, 11:25 AM

The Enlightenment- ‘’cast off the shackles of our self-imposed tutelage’’ (Kant).

Basically the enlightenment introduced the concept of the capacity that everyone can think for themselves, also things like equality, as well as rejection of tradition i.e. church, monarchy.

Another factor was socio-political developments-since Britain was changing from an industrial economy, workers moved to the city which caused problems for developments.

Jeremy Bentham—(he was a philosopher, legal reformer, he took an egalitarian approach.

According to Bentham “mankind are governed by two sovereign master-pleasure and pain”.

09-18-2010, 11:26 AM

Utility can be defined as usefulness. Bentham believed that our usefulness was governed by our pursuit of pleasure and our avoidance of pain, thus the more pleasure one receives the more useful. So in a nutshell Bentham called it “the greatest good for the greatest number”.

Bentham believed that humans pursue pleasure and avoid pain; he identified pleasure and pain as what we should and shouldn’t do. As a hedonist, he believed that pleasure was the sole good and pain was the sole evil. Thus Bentham’s utilitarianism was referred to as ‘’HEDONIC UTILITARIANISM”.

Bentham said that the principle of utility was imperative in determining the moral aspects of deeds. So basically the rightness/wrongness of an action is determined by its usefulness (basically the amount of pleasure gained from that action).

Utility-----approves/disapproves of every action in accordance to the tendency which appears to have to diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question. To promote or oppose that happiness would mean that not it’s not only concerned with the private individual but of every measure of government.

09-18-2010, 12:21 PM

Hedone---comes from the Greek and means pleasure.

In an attempt to measure the amount of pain or pain gained from an act, Bentham devised the hedonic calculus, which is basically like a ‘pleasure adding machine’ (colloquially).

1. Intensity

2. Duration

3. Certainty/uncertainty

4. Propinquity/remoteness---nearness/closeness

5. Fecundity---chance it has of being followed by sensations of the same kind---so basically feeling pleasure if its pleasurable or pain if it’s painful

6. Purity---chance it has of not being followed by sensations (this is opposite to fecundity…in the above you feel what your meant to feel) but in this one you feel pain, if its pleasurable and pleasure If it’s painful

7. Extent---number of persons to whom it extends or who are affected by it.

09-20-2010, 01:39 PM


· The theory is based on egalitarianism, which means that it serves equality.
· It attempts to give clear ethical guidance
· It intends to have an impact on the majority
· It focuses on pleasure which is worth aiming for
· It is adjustable to scenarios
· It is not based on traditions
· It is easy to understand
· And it is good for policy


· It raises many issues since it allows anything to be justified
· It goes against tradition thus it raises controversy
· It does not allow one to have their own opinion, thus it denies freedom of opinion, and forces moral conclusions on people.
· The right action is determined by the theory
· You can’t predict consequences
· The concept of pleasure is too simplistic, and arbitrary.
· It doesn’t protect the interests of minority groups.

09-20-2010, 01:50 PM
Utilitarianism’s main concern is that of the end justifying the means, in order to work this out it judge’s actions by their outcomes. It doesn’t show favoritism to anyone but it does require empirical knowledge even if to reach a plausible decision. However, Bentham considered that animals have moral standing, so he wondered whether they too should be put in the moral equation. Because moral relevance should be considered even if it can’t talk.

10-08-2010, 03:44 PM
Act Utilitarianism is Bentham’s version, it’s also known by the following names: classical and Hedonic.

· According to this the principle of utility should be directly applied so that the rightness of an action can be measured in a particular situation.
· Effects of each action should be calculated by its own merits


· Kant- the very meaning of moral judgments that can be universalized into general laws of conduct.
· Acts can be made right/wrong by facts other than the amount of good it produces. Sometimes consequentialist theories cannot be correct, and that some injection of deontological is required
· Utilitarianism aims to be egalitarian, thus treating all conscious persons capable of experiencing pleasure and pain as equally important in making moral choices. However in real life people are drawn towards feeling obliged to favor with loved ones, as opposed to giving equal status to everyone.

10-08-2010, 03:45 PM
John Stuart Mill- Utilitarianism:

· ‘’utility/greatest happiness principle holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness: by happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain, by unhappiness is intended pain and the privation of pain’’.
· Mill: proposes hedonism as the foundation for his ethical theory.
· People accused utilitarianism of being ‘’greatest criminal happiness principle’’ thus Mill argued that this notion supposed that humans are capable of no pleasure except those of which swine are capable, he depicted this as a criticism thus he sought to modify such a limitation.

Higher and Lower Pleasures:

· Bentham depicted pleasures in terms of equal status. However, Mill attempted to provide a more sophisticated account by differentiating between higher and lower pleasures that humans enjoyed.

Higher pleasures=mental/intellectual
Lower pleasures=bodily

· Mill: ‘’better to be a human dissatisfied then a fool satisfied, better to be Socrates dissatisfied then a pig satifisfied…’’
· Enjoying higher pleasures like philosophizing, makes one able to compare them to lower pleasures which one enjoys e.g. drinking tea.
· BUT, if you don’t understand higher pleasures then you can’t compare them to lower ones and so cannot make a judgment about which are better.
· Thus it’s not just a subjective opinion in deciding which are superior.
· In order to maintain a degree of objectivity in utilitarianism, Mill needs to find a way of deciding which pleasures we should be striving for higher or lower.
· Mill: there would be substantial agreement between these judges, but if there were not then we should stand by a majority decision.


· Bentham simplifies the theory thus it makes it practical and appealing however, in Mills version where he emphasizes the notion of quality of higher or lower pleasures, which makes the simplicity disappear.
· It creates an ambiguity of pleasure and its nature.
· How can we compare two very different kinds of things, such as reading and physical exercise?
· Also by Mill saying that competent judges have experienced both higher and lower pleasures, while the rest of us have only experienced lower pleasures.
· If competent judges are to determine which are higher or lower, then why have the pleasures that we have experienced already defined as lower?
· If higher or lower pleasures are so different then how can they be compared?