discussion questions 713

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Carol Gilligan has argued that women make moral decisions differently than men, but that women’s way of making moral decisions is equally as valid as men’s. How, according to Gilligan, do women tend to think of ethics? What are their main considerations when asked to solve ethical dilemmas? How does their approach differ from the Kantian approach said to be typical of men? (see pages 274-277).


Virtue Ethics differs from both utilitarianism and duty-defined moralities such as Kant’s, and in a very specific way.

Namely: Virtue Ethics is primarily concerned with the characters and habits of persons, while the other two theories are concerned with the goodness/badness or rightness/wrongness of particular actions. Discuss this difference. What difference does it make, in practical terms?


Original question

The Utility Principle is stated on page 267 of your text. However, there are two main ways of applying the Utility Principle. Jeremy Bentham uses a quantitative “happiness calculus,” while John Stuart Mill uses qualitative reasoning.

In this post, choose either Bentham’s or Mill’s version of the Utility Principle, and explain how it works in practice.

First, explain in general terms how this version of the Utility Principle is supposed to work, then show how it would be applied to a specific moral problem. (See pages 266-271 in Solomon & Higgins.)


John Stuart Mill was a famous philosopher in the 19th century in England. Mill felt that we should consider different qualities of pleasures and pain. He believed it was better to be slightly satisfied with a higher pleasure than to be very satisfied with a lower pleasure (Solomon & Higgins 268). For example, Mill felt that it would be better to be slightly satisfied as a human than to be completely satisfied as a pig. Unfortunately the problem is sometimes pleasure can be unjust. For example, an individual that derives pleasure out of torturing his subjects that his pleasure outweighs their pain (Solomon & Higgins 269). Although morally this unacceptable, the quantitative interpretation states we should allow this. According to Mill the greatest good for the greatest number trumps the good of individuals for smaller numbers of individuals.

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