Act Utilitarianism Vs. Rule Utilitarianism

Act Utilitarianism Vs. Rule Utilitarianism
markchang
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Posted Sep 28, 2006 - 11:36 PM:
Subject: Act Utilitarianism Vs. Rule Utilitarianism
Hi every one! I am new to ethics and need clarification on Act Utilitarianism and Rule Utilitarianism.
What exactly is the difference between the two? please explain and give some real life examples to illustrate how these two theories works if possible. thanks so much!

markchang
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Posted Sep 29, 2006 - 7:20 AM:

no one wants to help?
poului
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Posted Sep 29, 2006 - 7:21 AM:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism


wikipedia is your friend.

markchang
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Posted Oct 1, 2006 - 9:04 PM:

you are also my friend
No_Cities_Left
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Posted Oct 1, 2006 - 9:24 PM:

markchang wrote:
Hi every one! I am new to ethics and need clarification on Act Utilitarianism and Rule Utilitarianism.
What exactly is the difference between the two? please explain and give some real life examples to illustrate how these two theories works if possible. thanks so much!



I will try to keep it simple... based on what I can remember.

Rule Utilitarianism follows "moral rules" in which there are exceptions. Therefore Rule Utilitarian cannot exist because it simply becomes act utilitarianism. In act utilitarianism a choice is made based on the best possible consequences.

Rule Utilitarianism would say lying is wrong/

Imagine Germany during nazism, and a german family was hiding jewish citizens in their household.

SS troops come to your door and ask "are you hiding any jews?"

a rule utilitarian would say yes, because they defined lying as wrong. But they say there are exceptions to their rules, and in this case it would be an exception because utility is greatest if they lie.

An Act Utilitarian looks at this situation without any rules or guidelines, only what will be the greatest utility. So essentially a rule utilitarian is an act utilitarian.

I'm not an expert on Utilitarianism, but I hope this helps.
markchang
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Posted Oct 1, 2006 - 10:34 PM:

Thanks so much for your reply. I like what you said. It makes a lot of sense. It is too inflexible if a rule utilitarian stick with rules and the consequence may not maximize the greatest good for the greatest amount of people.

I feel that Act utilitarianism also have certain defects because if it does not neccessarily consider moral rules. That means that we can do anything if the consequence can maximize greatest good for greatest number of people, including sacraficing certain people or minority for the majority. So it can leads to injustice. Is it correct?

Thanks so much for your help, no_cites!


No_Cities_Left
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Posted Oct 1, 2006 - 10:43 PM:

markchang wrote:
Thanks so much for your reply. I like what you said. It makes a lot of sense. It is too inflexible if a rule utilitarian stick with rules and the consequence may not maximize the greatest good for the greatest amount of people. I feel that Act utilitarianism also have certain defects because if it does not neccessarily consider moral rules. That means that we can do anything if the consequence can maximize greatest good for greatest number of people, including sacraficing certain people or minority for the majority. So it can leads to injustice. Is it correct? Thanks so much for your help, no_cites!


what moral rules?

I think more accurately you could claim it doesn't consider individual human rights, which is basically what you were getting at.
markchang
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Posted Oct 1, 2006 - 11:07 PM:

Individual human rights should be protected is a moral rule?
Anverra
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Posted Nov 18, 2006 - 3:54 AM:
Subject: Question by Markchang early Oct 06
This conversation about the difference between act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism seems to have come to a stop early in October. This is 18 November. I'd like to see the dialogue resume. I am a reluctant post-Christian; that is, I used to be a Christian but am not now because I find the doctrines intellectually untenable. However, I am rather sorry about this, because my life was easier to undertake when I still had my beliefs.

I suspect I am in the majority now, not only in Canada, but in all the western democracies. I think we need a moral code or theory to fill the void. What I
would like to see is rule utilitarianism (with some act utilitarianism thrown in), combined with a preservation of the religious belief that all human life is sacred, just on principle. I would not want to be in a world that did not preserve that.
Although I am post-Christian, as Christmas approacahes, I am glad for an oppportunity to re-celebrate the message of goodwill to all.

Pwrong
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Posted Nov 24, 2006 - 7:02 AM:

Hi, I'm new here.

I think more accurately you could claim it doesn't consider individual human rights, which is basically what you were getting at.
Would it be better to say that utilitarians simply don't believe in human rights? It's not as if we just forgot about them.

a rule utilitarian would say yes, because they defined lying as wrong. But they say there are exceptions to their rules, and in this case it would be an exception because utility is greatest if they lie.

I don't think that's the way wikipedia describes it. My impression was that an act utilitarian just looks at the effects of the act itself, while the rule utilitarian asks "what what happen if we did this all the time?
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