What is the differences between rule utilitarianism vs act utilitarianism?

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claude14 | eNotes Newbie

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Utilitarianism, in regards to ethics, means what is for the greatest good for the most people; in regards to morality and society. Two types of utilitarianism are act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism.

Act utilitarianism refers to the belief that the right action will the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people. Act would entail one act and the resulting consequence. Rule utilitarianism contends that an action can be morally right if it in the end provides the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people. Rule would then refer to consequences that are repeated.

On this premise, breaking a rule could become morally right, if it brings about the greatest amount of happiness. Act utilitarianism would refer to an act. For example, a student is contemplating cheating on a test. Would this bring about the greatest good for the greatest amount of people? An example of Rule utilitarianism might refer to the arena of politics. If a politician breaks a rule for the greater good; will there be repeated consequences by the people because this politician broke the rule? Will there be long term benefits or dire consequences?

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