no exceptions, these are the rules- don’t reason episodically

rule - good moral rules maximize overall happiness, even if specific violations of the rules would offer greater happiness

two versions:
act - each specific action should aim to maximize overll utility and/or minimize overall suffering

general rules get in the way of maximizing happiness

only focuses on specific actions


Jeremy bentham; principles of moral legislation

increasing overall happiness is right,even if individual must suffer, benthal agrees with this

consequentalism= right conduct and proper moral theory attract consequences; aim to produce the best consequence

egalitarianism = equality


  1. maximizing overall equality is the best thing to do
  2. right even if some people must suffer

we make all our moral decisions based on uncertainty

trolley problem:
change track and kill one instead of five

cross cultural support:

  1. most people across all cultures think we should kill one person

bc fewer deaths are better

our judgements in intuition pumps indicates our moral theory

premise 2 tells us that most people offer utilitarian reasons for running over just one person

moral principles must apply to everyone

ceteris paribus - all things equal

thus most people across all cultures are utilitarians

egoism - the focus is on the self

british economist, early laissez fair opposed to crown involvement

what should we think about when we make a law?

prudential - rational

man is rational to pursue pleasure and irrational to pursue pain

claim about rationality

hedonism: what is of value is pleasure and what is of disvalue is pain; there are no other values

if you’re not trying to make yourself happy, what’re you doing?

psychological hedonism:
2 masters - pleasure and pain

seek to feel pleasure and avoid pain

claim about psychology