Business Ethics and Consequentialism
ETH 501 Drawing upon utilitarian ethics
Ethics are a set of acceptable principles that guide the way individuals should act in a given situation. Utilitarian Ethics is morally right acts that bring the most happiness to individuals. For instance, utilitarian ethics main focus is happiness and what decision will produce the maximum amount of happiness for everyone involved. Jeremy Bentham believed that individuals were governed by two masters, which are pleasure and pain. The utility test helps individuals select the best outcome that will result in the most happiness and minimize pain or discomfort.
Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) was influenced by both Hobbes' account of human nature and Hume's account of social utility. He famously held that humans were ruled by two sovereign masters — pleasure and pain. We seek pleasure and the avoidance of pain, they “…govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think…” (Bentham PML, 1). Thus, his apparent endorsement of Hobbesian psychological egoism created problems in understanding his moral theory since psychological egoism rules out acting to promote the overall well-being (when that it is) incompatible with one's own. For the psychological egoist, that is not even a possibility.
So, given ‘ought to implies can’ it would follow that we are not obligated to act to promote overall well-being when that is incompatible with our own. Bentham also benefited from Hume's work, though in many ways their approaches to moral philosophy were completely different. Hume rejected the egoistic view of human nature. Hume also focused on character evaluation in his system. Actions are significant as evidence of character, but only have this derivative significance.
Rhetorically, anyway, one can see why this is an important move for Bentham to be able to make. He was a social reformer. He felt that people often had responses to...