Chapter 5 Essay Questions
1. Define consequentialism and explain why act utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism. How does consequentialism differ from rival approaches to ethics? Do you find consequentialism to be a plausible way of thinking about right and wrong? Defend your answer.
2. Describe a case in which utilitarianism seems to require that someone behave unjustly. Do you think utilitarianism nonetheless gives the correct moral verdict in this case? Why or why not? How might a utilitarian reply to the objection that the theory wrongly licenses injustice?
3. Write an essay comparing and contrasting act utilitarianism with rule consequentialism. Define each theory and then explain why rule consequentialism is often thought to provide a solution to the problem of injustice that faces act utilitarianism. What objection do act utilitarians often level against rule consequentialism? Which theory do you think is preferable, and why?
4. Explain the Greatest Happiness Principle. Then, come up with what you take to be the most compelling counterexample to it. Ultimately, does your example show that the Greatest Happiness Principle is false? Explain and defend your response.
5. Mill insists that we should be impartial between our own happiness and the happiness of others. Come up with a case in which partiality seems justified. How do you think Mill would respond to your case? Do you agree with his response? Why or why not?