Utilitarianism and other essays contents

In the third chapter, Mill asks what "sanctions" (that is, rewards and punishments) undergird the obligation to promote the general happiness. He explores a variety of ways in which both external and internal sanctions – that is, the incentives provided by others and the inner feelings of sympathy and conscience – encourage people to think about how their actions affect the happiness of others. The ultimate sanction, Mill claims, is internal. Humans are social animals who naturally desire "to be in unity with our fellow creatures." [10] To prefer selfish goals over the public good runs counter to this deep-seated natural impulse.

There are a number of alternative ethical philosophies to utilitarianism also used in business. Formalism, associated with the philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), is a rule-based system of ethical principles that are applied to each step of the process leading up to—and including—the outcome. In other words, the end is only just if the means are as well. This is sometimes also termed universalism, since the method attempts to apply universal ethical standards consistently across business practices, as contrasted with the relativism of utilitarian ethics. Although scholars disagree about its exact relation to utilitarianism (some argue they may coexist), formalism is frequently cited as the opposite of utilitarianism. Under formalism, a business action that passes the ethical tests at every stage is considered ethical; if the rules or principles are violated along the way, the action is unethical regardless of the outcome.

Utilitarianism and other essays contents

utilitarianism and other essays contents

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