Two types of Utilitarianism:
- Act Utilitarianism
- Rule Utilitarianism
According to this, an act is morally right if and only it maximizes utility of an action. This means, out of the alternative actions available to a person the action which has maximum benefits as compared to harms is the best moral action. The benefits and harms are calculated for every parson who is going to be affected by the proposed action.
In the determination of which act is right, as Act utilitarian will:-
- Set out all relevant alternative acts those are open to him;
- List all the individuals who will be affected by the alternative courses of action including oneself if affected;
- Assess how the individuals will be affected by the alter native acts;
- Compute balance of benefit to harm for each individual affected by each act;
- Add balance of benefit to harm for every affected individual;
- Chose that act which has maximum utility, i.e, maximum balance of net benefits.
Rule Utilitarianism emerged as a way to overcome the shortcomings of Act utilirianism.
Rule Utilitarianism is a concept, according to which, an act is morally right only when it conforms to the rule which maximizes utility for everyone.
When faced with a decision as to which act is right in particular situation, one simply needs to refer to the rule which maximizes utility in the given circumstances. The act which is supported by this rule is the moral act.
The Utilitarianism ‘tends to judge each act in isolation.’
Rule Utilitarianism ‘judges an act in light of a rule which takes into account collective interests of all in all circumstances.’
The Act Utilitarianism asks, “How much pleasure or pain would result if I did this now?”
The Rule Utilitarianism asks, “How much pleasure or pain would result if everyone were to do this?”