Utilitarianism and The Ethics of Care

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Utilitarianism and The Ethics of Care

This week you encountered the second two moral theories: John Stuart Mill’s utilitarianism and Virginia Held’s ethics of care (as known as care ethics), as well as finishing up our discussion of Kant.

To get you started, consider the following questions. You should address the first question in some fashion, and it might be interesting to think about the trolley problem in light of care ethics (or even virtue ethics), but you are not required to do so. These questions are to encourage you to start thinking about the relationships between the readings so far and the study of ethics. This course builds on the readings that came before so it is good to start thinking about this relationships now.

  1. Comparing the three moral theories: What you find valuable? What do you disagree with?
  2. How might a care ethicist respond to the trolley problem?

You are also welcome think about and respond to:

  • issues that pertain specifically to the field of medicine
  • similar themes between the articles or other connections you noticed
  • dissimilarities that are valuable for critically thinking about the separate pieces
  • other items, concepts, or arguments you found interesting and why
  • connections between Aristotle’s virtue ethics and Kant, Mill, and Held

According to Mill, the principle of utility is the basis for morality because happiness is the final end for human beings. That is, happiness is the final aim of intermediate goals, like making money, for example.


Name and explain one feature of the ethics of care. Be sure to mention why this is a fundamentally different approach to ethics when compared to moral theories like those of Immanuel Kant or John Stuart Mill.