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Philosophy & Religious Studies   >   Utilitarianism

Introduction to Moral Theory and Utilitarianism

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In this course, Dr Iain Law (University of Birmingham) thinks about utilitarianism, one of the three major normative ethical theories alongside Kantian deontological ethics and virtue ethics. In the first module, we introduce the concept of a moral theory, before thinking about consequentialism and utilitarianism more specifically. In the second module, we think about utilitarianism as it was conceived by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), focusing in particular on his monistic conception of pleasure. After that, we consider the development of utilitarianism under John Stuart Mill (1806-73), thinking in particular about how Mill answered some of the objections levelled at Bentham, but also created problems of his own. We also think about his infamous 'proof' of utilitarianism. In the fourth module, we move on from the hedonism of Bentham and Mill to think about different theories of welfare, including desire satisfaction and objective list theory, before moving on in the fifth module to consider two more important issues associated with utilitarianism: first, whose welfare counts, and second, how do we calculate it? In the sixth module, we consider three of the most famous objections to utilitarianism, before turning in the seventh final module to consider a totally different conception of utilitarianism known as rule utilitarianism.

Introduction to Moral Theory and Utilitarianism

In this module, we provide an introduction to moral theories in general, before thinking in more detail about consequentialism and about utilitarianism more specifically.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Law, I. (2019, January 09). Utilitarianism - Introduction to Moral Theory and Utilitarianism [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Law, I. "Utilitarianism – Introduction to Moral Theory and Utilitarianism." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 09 Jan 2019,


Dr Iain Law

Dr Iain Law

Birmingham University