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Consequentialist theorists propose that our only duty should be to do whatever has the best consequences Utilitarianism the most popular of consequentialist theories was formulated by Jeremy Bentham 1789 and later refined by John Stuart Mill 1861 In general terms classical utilitarianism states that we should do whatever maximises the balance of pleasure over pain for everyone affected by our action This is a modern conception of morality It does not rely on God to provide us with moral rules but places morality in human nature in which human beings are primarily motivated by desire and passion in a consistent effort to avoid pain and misery People desire happiness therefore happiness is good and therefore general happiness is a social good So by calling an act good and right would actually mean it promoted the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people or maximising act consequentialism This could possibly mean acting in a manner that ran contrary to traditional morality for example assassinating a ruthless dictator personally responsible for torturing thousands of his own people We know it is morally wrong to kill another human being but by doing so it would save others from further anguish A more difficult argument would be if utilitarianism were to demand that you sacrificed your own pleasure for the greater pleasure of others If you were to immediately donate the entire winnings from a lottery jackpot to fund the development of resources for under privileged children The simplest objection to utilitarianism might therefore be why should I always act to increase the total happiness of the world which would not be entirely unreasonable A second objection might conclude that general happiness as a social aim does not prove that happiness itself is good as people can desire many bad things This follows the Deontological view that there are acts which are bad in themselves independent of any good they promote People desire addictive drugs but addictive drugs
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