<ethics, utilitarianism, Stuart Mill, pleasure>, <good, happiness, moral philosophy, liberalism> <Davide Ricardo> Distinction between ways of applying the greatest happiness principle for moral evaluation on utilitarian grounds. Act-utilitarianism supposes that each particular action should be evaluated solely by references to its own consequences, while rule-utilitarianism considers the consequences of widespread performance of similar actions. The act-utilitarian asks, "How much pleasure or pain would result if I did this now?" The rule-utilitarian asks, "What pleasure or pain would result if everyone were always to do this?" Since the answers to these questions may be quite different, they may lead to distinct recommendations about moral conduct. Although Mill noted that reliance on moral rules may be of practical use in decision-making, he argued that their influence should remain defeasible in particular circumstances. Recommended Reading: J. J. C. Smart and Bernard Williams, Utilitarianism: For and Against (Cambridge, 1973).
[A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]
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