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Explain the text: Some merits of one form of rule utilitarianism by Richard Brandt.

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Section 1.
- Brandt’s overall position takes as a basic assumption the standard utilitarian thesis: Whether or not an act is moral depends only on the act’s “consequences for the welfare of sentient creatures” (39) [which is very similar to Mill’s Greatest Happiness Principle, i.e. an act is moral to the extent that it results in increased happiness for the greatest number of people]
- One of Brandt’s preliminary goals is to explain why the thesis above is a normative ethical thesis, i.e. why it is a statement of what ought/should be good, right, permissible, required, etc.
Section 2.
- So, is utilitarianism an acceptable normative moral theory? Brandt says that in order for any moral theory to be an acceptable normative moral theory, it must meet the following requirements:
a. The theory has clear concepts and is free from contradictions and inconsistencies
b. The theory must concur with known facts
c. It must be possible to formulate the theory clearly so that what it says about right and wrong actions can be clearly determined
d. Most importantly, what the theory says is right and wrong must be “acceptable to thoughtful persons who have had reasonably wide experience” (41), when taken with supporting information/explanation, and when compared to the pronouncements of other normative theories
Section 3.
- According to Brandt, does utilitarianism meet those requirements? Yes. [Highly debatable.]
a. “The utilitarian principle provides a clear and definite procedure for determining which acts are right or wrong…” (41); the utilitarian principle covers all possible cases; “the utilitarian principle is like a general scientific theory, which checks with observations at many points…” (41)
b. Because, according to Brandt, any plausible moral theory takes consequences into account, either directly or indirectly, utilitarianism has the simple advantage of being all about consequences; it is also an advantage, according to Brandt, that utilitarianism does not bother itself with balancing things as different as justice and utility
c. A utilitarian system of morality as a rational institution can be “recommended to a person of broad human sympathies” (42) because such an institution maximizes expectable general welfare; such an institution can also be recommended to a selfish person because, under such a system, the selfish person can reasonably expect to have his own expectation of welfare maximized; that a utilitarian morality can be recommended to both selfish and non-selfish people is a feather in its cap
Section 4.
- Brandt is concerned with rule utilitarianism specifically, not act utilitarianism; Brandt is careful to distinguish between the two:
a. Act utilitarianism: “An act is objectively right if no other act the agent could perform would produce better consequences” (42)
b. According to Brandt, this makes act utilitarianism an “atomistic theory” (43), because its concern is with single acts, where each act’s rightness is determined by the consequences it brings about
On the other hand, rule...

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