14. What should we do? (Part I)


In this chapter, we consider some of the most influential theories in Western ethics. In particular, we consider utilitarianism, and some aspects of Kant’s (1724 – 1804) ethics.


14.1 We introduce act utilitarianism – the claim that, as Jeremy Bentham put it, “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong.”

14.2 We present objections to act utilitarianism in this section.

14.3 We introduce rule utilitarianism, in an attempt to avoid some of the objections to act utilitarianism.

14.4 We introduce one part of Kant’s moral theory: his Universalization Test.

14.5 We turn to another part of Kant’s moral theory: his Humanity Formula.

14.6 We briefly contrast utilitarianism with Kantianism.