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According to utilitarianism, an action’s moral worth is based on the contribution it has to inclusive utility in making the most of happiness or liking as summed among all individuals. This implies that, in this case, it is the individuals’ total utility which is of importance. Thus, utilitarianism can be said to be a reductionistic and quantitative approach to ethics (Sheng, 2004). Rule utilitarianism, also known as indirect or restricted utilitarianism is a form of utilitarianism, which argues that an individual’s duty is to follow the rule that would lead to the best values if the rule is adhered to, but not to seek after that act that would create the best general values. Rule utilitarianism simply judges the significance an action based on the laws (Sheng, 2004). Particularly, it implies that if an action follows the rules that contribute to happiness, then the action is morally right.
The Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” can be both ethical and unethical in various ways. To begin with, this rule would be considered ethical when it is associated with good deeds. Only actions that contribute to happiness are considered ethical, and this is according to the rule utilitarianism (Scarre, 2002). However, this Golden Rule can be unethical, especially when the action in question could contribute to unhappiness. In this case, action would do more harm than good to the involved parties. Therefore, even though the action is based on existing rules, there should be exceptions particularly when the action is likely to cause unhappiness to the people as a whole (Scarre, 2002).
Scarre, G. (2002). Utilitarianism. London: Routledge
Sheng, Q. (2004). A defense of utilitarianism. Lanham, Md: University Press of America
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