Preference utilitarianism?? ( Ethics)

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Report Thread starter 2 years ago
I am currently writing an essay on utilitarianism and I am really struggling to understand what preference utilitarianism actually is
What are the similarities and differences between preference, act and rule utilitarianism?

Many thanks!!
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Report 2 years ago
Preference utilitarianism (PU) is predicated on the belief that moral actions are based on the preference of those involved. It is highly controversial, and a common argument involving PU is abortion. Peter Singer makes the point that abortion is not morally unjust, based on the fact that fetuses do not hold a preference between life and death. He concedes that the same argument would make the life preferences of infants morally grey. A more concise representation of PU is that moral decisions are not always made on the net happiness it brings to people (hedonic utilitarianism), but rather on the preferences of those people involved. PU could be best described as a self-interest utilitarianism, that does not necessarily take majorities or populations of people into account, but can be founded purely on individual preferences.

Act utilitarianism (AU) is a effects based moral utilitarianism. The morality of a given act is based on its causes and consequences, rather than rules (rule utilitarianism). A rule vs act utilitarianism hypothetical to think about:
The nation that Bill lives in establishes that stealing is morally wrong, but also does not provide any aid to the most impoverished in the country. Bill lives in poverty, and is morally good in every case, but he cannot feed his family due to the lack of aid. Thus, he decides to steal a bag of rice to feed his family.

Bill is violating a rule utilitarianism which establishes that stealing is morally wrong, and ultimately harms society. Under an act utilitarianism, he could be morally righteous through the fact that he is acting out of necessity to perform a net good for him and his family.

There is a lot in there and if you need more examples, or more questions, please ask. Good luck!

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