Everyday clinical practice is steeped in ethical considerations, but discussion of ethics is often removed from these real-life situations. Kath M Melia's new book works in the gap between theory and practice. The chapters tackle the main theories which form the discussion on ethics, and include practical case examples, which bring these theories into the clinical context. These classic and everyday cases challenge the reader to critically reflect on his/her own experiences and outlook. The social, legal and professional regulation context is brought into the discussion throughout, to equip students with the knowledge that they need to make clinical decisions. Topics covered include: - Beauchamp and Childress' four principles of bioethics - Rights - Personal and individual conscience - Moral philosophy - The virtues/virtue ethics of the practitioner. This book will be essential reading for pre-registration nursing students taking modules in ethics and law. It will also be a valuable text for postgraduates and qualified nurses, and students of health who need to gain an appreciation of ethics. www.sagepub.co.uk/melia
Chapter 7: Utilitarianism – Greatest Happiness Theory
The ultimate end or object of human life: something that is in itself completely satisfying. Happiness fits this description.
(Aristotle, Ethics, 384–322 BC)
Utilitarianism is the doctrine that we should always act so as to maximize the good (whatever ‘good’ may be, or whatever may be good) (MacCormick, 2008: 107). Given the complexity of health care provision and in particular the practice of nursing, MacCormick's somewhat sceptical description of utilitarianism has some resonance for health care. It also, by and large, is a good definition of the theory, which is also known as the ‘greatest happiness’ principle.
Among the oft-used theories in medical and nursing ethics texts, utilitarianism is perhaps the best known. This consequence-based theory of Jeremy ...