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University of Florida Ethics Hedonism and Act Utilitarianism Discussion

University of Florida Ethics Hedonism and Act Utilitarianism Discussion

Question Description

I’m working on a humanities discussion question and need a sample draft to help me study.

Questions for this week, on utilitarianism…

1. What is HEDONISM, and why do you think it succeeds/fails as the basic of morality?

2. John Stuart Mill distinguishes between HIGHER and LOWER level pleasures, as far as their utility is concerned. Is he correct in doing so?

3. What, exactly, is ACT UTILITARIANISM? How does it work? What strengths and weaknesses does it have?

4. Bernard Williams invites us to consider the case of Jim, Pedro, and the Indians. They are all in some jungle. Pedro has lined up a row of twenty Indians he wants to kill. Jim coincidentally stumbles upon the scene and Pedro offers him a proposition: Kill one of these Indians, and I will let the rest go free. Refuse to kill, and I kill them all. The transaction therefore, is kill one Indian to save nineteen. If no action is taken, twenty Indians will die instead. What would the utilitarian tell us to do? Why? Do you think this adequately describes the nature of morality, or is something missing?

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