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Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that asserts that right and wrong are best determined by focusing on outcomes of actions and choices.
Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that determines right from wrong by focusing on outcomes. It is a form of consequentialism.
Utilitarianism holds that the most ethical choice is the one that will produce the greatest good for the greatest number. It is the only moral framework that can be used to justify military force or war. It is also the most common approach to moral reasoning used in business because of the way in which it accounts for costs and benefits.
However, because we cannot predict the future, it’s difficult to know with certainty whether the consequences of our actions will be good or bad. This is one of the limitations of utilitarianism.
Utilitarianism also has trouble accounting for values such as justice and individual rights. For example, assume a hospital has four people whose lives depend upon receiving organ transplants: a heart, lungs, a kidney, and a liver. If a healthy person wanders into the hospital, his organs could be harvested to save four lives at the expense of one life. This would arguably produce the greatest good for the greatest number. But few would consider it an acceptable course of action, let alone the most ethical one.
So, although utilitarianism is arguably the most reason-based approach to determining right and wrong, it has obvious limitations.
Consequentialism is an ethical theory that judges an action’s moral correctness by its consequences.
Moral Philosophy studies what is right and wrong, and related philosophical issues.
Moral Reasoning is the branch of philosophy that attempts to answer questions with moral dimensions.
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Utilitarianism: John Stuart Mill
Who is john stuart mill.
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century, as well as a political economist and a prominant politician. Born in London to a family of intellectuals, Mill was educated by his father, James Mill, who was a philosopher and economist himself. He was a child prodigy, learning Greek at age three and Latin at age eight before delving into advanced philosophical works as a teenager.
Mill's father was a close friend and follower of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham , the founder of utilitarianism , a moral theory that emphasizes the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people as the guiding principle for ethical behavior. The education he gave John Stuart Mill aimed to mold him into a utilitarian philosopher, and Mill's most famous work, Utilitarianism (published in 1861), is a detailed explanation and defense of the theory against a range of objections. This digital essay covers Chapter 2 of that work.
As a political reformer (and Member of Parliament from 1865 to 1868), Mill advocated for economic and social policies that would promote equality and social welfare. He was a staunch advocate for women's rights, publishing "The Subjection of Women", a groundbreaking work that argued for equal social status between women and men. Mill was only the second Member of Parliament to advocate for women's suffrage, and wrote in support of the abolition of slavery in the United States.
Key Principle Utilitarianism: The Basics
The greatest happiness principle.
Here is how Mill states the defining principle of utilitarianism:
The doctrine that the basis of morals is utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong in proportion as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By 'happiness' is meant pleasure and the absence of pain; by 'unhappiness' is meant pain and the lack of pleasure.
Let's break this down. In this passage, Mill says that morality is all about promoting happiness (which he also calls "utility"). The more happiness an action produces, the better it is, morally speaking; and the more unhappiness an action produces, the worse it is. According to utilitarianism, then, we should strive to maximize utility in the world, producing the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.
Mill also equates happiness with "pleasure and the absence of pain" and unhappiness with "pain and the lack of pleasure". This view of the nature of happiness is known as hedonism .
The Importance of Sentience
The capacity to experience pleasure and pain is known as sentience . Human beings are sentient, and so are many animals. Utilitarians like Mill hold that the rightness or wrongness of an action depends on how the action affects all sentient beings -- not just humans. In other words, in applying the Greatest Happiness Principle, we must factor in the pleasure or pain of sentient animals as well as humans.
This doesn't mean all sentient life is completely equal. Sentience comes in degrees: different creatures -- and even different individuals -- can have a greater or lesser capacity to experience pain or pleasure. For example, a toad arguably cannot experience as wide a variety of pleasures and pains as a human being -- such as the pleasure of humor or the pain of heartbreak -- or experience them with as much intensity as humans sometimes do. Similarly, someone who is under heavy sedation has less of a capacity for pleasure and pain than you do right now (we hope!).
The Felicific Calculus
For utilitarians, determining the right thing to do is a matter of adding up the utility an action is likely to produce for the sentient creatures affected. For instance, suppose Jeffrey wants to go on vacation, but nobody is available to feed his cat, Whiskers. Mill would advise Jeffrey to consider whether the pleasure he would get from the vacation outweighs the pain Whiskers would experience from going without food and water.
As this illustrates, utilitarians try their best to approach moral decisions mathematically. Jeremy Bentham called this the "Felicific Calculus".
Pleasure and the Good Life
What view of the good life does utilitarianism imply? Here's what Mill says:
Pleasure and freedom from pain are the only things that are desirable as ends, and everything that is at all desirable is so either for the pleasure inherent in it or as means to the promotion of pleasure and the prevention of pain.
We can contrast this with Aristotle's view that the ultimate goal of human life is eudaimonia , the state of living in accordance with one's true nature as a rational being. For Aristotle, this involves cultivating moral and intellectual virtue in oneself. For a utilitarian like Mill, virtue is not necessarily a requirement for a good life. Anyone who is effective in promoting pleasure and preventing pain is living a good life, regardless of their personal virtue.
Which of these views do you find more plausible? Is Aristotle right in thinking that a good life requires a virtuous character? Or is pleasure ultimately the only thing that really matters, as Mill believes? When you reflect on your own goals and desires, do all of them seem to fit what Mill says above -- or do you find any that seem totally unrelated to pleasure (your own or others')?
Key Principle Higher and Lower Pleasures
Are all pleasurable activities equal? For example, does utilitarianism imply that someone who enjoys binge-watching professional wrestling all day is spending their time just as well as someone who enjoys reading classic novels? Perhaps surprisingly, Mill doesn't think so. In this section, Mill introduces his view that some pleasures are superior to others:
When utilitarian writers have said that mental pleasures are better than bodily ones they have mainly based this on mental pleasures being more permanent, safer, less costly and so on—i.e. from their circumstantial advantages rather than from their intrinsic nature. But they could, quite consistently with their basic principle, have taken another route: it is quite compatible with the principle of utility to recognize that some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others . In estimating the value of anything else, we take into account quality as well as quantity; it would be absurd if the value of pleasures were supposed to depend on quantity alone.
"What do you mean by 'difference of quality in pleasures'? What, according to you, makes one pleasure more valuable than another, merely as a pleasure, if not its being greater in amount?" There is only one possible answer to this. Pleasure P1 is more desirable than pleasure P2 if: all or almost all people who have had experience of both give a decided preference to P1, irrespective of any feeling that they ought to prefer it. If those who are competently acquainted with both these pleasures place P1 so far above P2 that they prefer it even when they know that a greater amount of discontent will come with it, and wouldn’t give it up in exchange for any quantity of P2 that they are capable of having, we are justified in ascribing to P1 a superiority in quality that so greatly outweighs quantity as to make quantity comparatively negligible.
Consider what a virtue ethicist like Aristotle would think about this. Do you think Aristotle would agree with Mill that some pleasures are more valuable than others? If so, would their reasons be the same?
Socrates and the Fool
In the following paragraphs, Mill continues developing his doctrine of higher and lower pleasures. He explains the sense in which he thinks a life characterized by the cultivation and use of "the higher faculties" (for example, intellect and artistic sensibilities) is preferable to a life centered around "lower faculties" (such as desires for basic comforts or appetites for food and drink).
It is an unquestionable fact that the way of life that employs the higher faculties is strongly preferred to the way of life that caters only to the lower ones by people who are equally acquainted with both and equally capable of appreciating and enjoying both. Few human creatures would agree to be changed into any of the lower animals in return for a promise of the fullest allowance of animal pleasures; no intelligent human being would consent to be a fool, no educated person would prefer to be an ignoramus, no person of feeling and conscience would rather be selfish and base, even if they were convinced that the fool, the dunce or the rascal is better satisfied with his life than they are with theirs. If they ever think they would, it is only in cases of unhappiness so extreme that to escape from it they would exchange their situation for almost any other, however undesirable they may think the other to be. Someone with higher faculties requires more to make him happy, is probably capable of more acute suffering, and is certainly vulnerable to suffering at more points, than someone of an inferior type; but in spite of these drawbacks he can’t ever really wish to sink into what he feels to be a lower grade of existence.
But the most appropriate label is a sense of dignity. All human beings have this sense in one form or another, and how strongly a person has it is roughly proportional to how well endowed he is with the higher faculties. In those who have a strong sense of dignity, their dignity is so essential to their happiness that they couldn’t want, for more than a moment, anything that conflicts with it.
It is true of course that the being whose capacities of enjoyment are low has the greatest chance of having them fully satisfied and thus of being contented; and a highly endowed being will always feel that any happiness that he can look for, given how the world is, is imperfect. But he can learn to bear its imperfections, if they are at all bearable; and they won’t make him envy the person who isn’t conscious of the imperfections only because he has no sense of the good that those imperfections are imperfections of — for example, the person who isn’t bothered by the poor quality of the conducting because he doesn’t enjoy music anyway. It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool or the pig think otherwise, that is because they know only their own side of the question. The other party to the comparison knows both sides.
The utilitarian standard is not the agent’s own greatest happiness but the greatest amount of happiness altogether; and even if it can be doubted whether a noble character is always happier because of its nobleness, such a character certainly makes other people happier, and the world in general gains immensely from its existence. So utilitarianism would achieve its end only through the general cultivation of nobleness of character, even if each individual got benefit only from the nobleness of others, with his own nobleness serving to reduce his own happiness.
Here, Mill discusses the potential demandingness of utilitarianism in cases where personal sacrifices are required to maximize overall happiness in the world.
Only while the world is in a very imperfect state can it happen that anyone’s best chance of serving the happiness of others is through the absolute sacrifice of his own happiness; but while the world is in that imperfect state, I fully admit that the readiness to make such a sacrifice is the highest virtue that can be found in man. I would add something that may seem paradoxical: in this present imperfect condition of the world the conscious ability to do without happiness gives the best prospect of bringing about such happiness as is attainable. For nothing else can raise a person above the chances of life by making him feel that fate and fortune—let them do their worst!—have no power to subdue him. Once he feels that, it frees him from excessive anxiety about the evils of life and lets him calmly develop the sources of satisfaction that are available to him, not concerning himself with the uncertainty regarding how long they will last or the certainty that they will end.
The utilitarian morality does recognise that human beings can sacrifice their own greatest good for the good of others ; it merely refuses to admit that the sacrifice is itself a good. It regards as wasted any sacrifice that doesn’t increase, or tend to increase, the sum total of happiness. The only self-renunciation it applauds is devotion to the happiness of others.
Key Principle The Principle of Equal Consideration
Mill holds that to live a morally good life, we must be unbiased in our consideration of other beings' happiness. Every sentient being's pleasure or pain counts. After stating this "Principle of Equal Consideration" in the following passage, he goes on to consider how a society guided by it would be organized.
The happiness that forms the utilitarian standard of what is right in conduct is not the agent’s own happiness but that of all concerned. As between his own happiness and that of others, utilitarianism requires him to be as strictly impartial as a disinterested and benevolent spectator. In the golden rule of Jesus of Nazareth we read the complete spirit of the ethics of utility. To do as you would be done by, and to love your neighbour as yourself constitute the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality.
As the practical way to get as close as possible to this ideal, the ethics of utility would command two things. (1) First, laws and social arrangements should place the happiness (or what we may call the interest) of every individual as much as possible in harmony with the interest of the whole. (2) Education and opinion, which have such a vast power over human character, should use that power to establish in the mind of every individual an unbreakable link between his own happiness and the good of the whole; especially between his own happiness and the kinds of conduct that are conducive to universal happiness. If (2) is done properly, it will tend to have two results: (2a) The individual won’t be able to conceive the possibility of being personally happy while acting in ways opposed to the general good; and (2b) in each individual a direct impulse to promote the general good will be one of the habitual motives of action, and the feelings connected with it will fill a large and prominent place in his sentient existence. This is the true character of the utilitarian morality.
Thought Experiment Utilitarianism in Action: The Trolley Problem
In 1967, the philosopher Philippa Foot introduced what is now one of the most famous thought experiments in ethics, known as the Trolley Problem . In the most basic version of the thought experiment, a runaway trolley is headed down a track, barreling toward five people who are tied to the track and unable to move. On a side track, there's a single person also tied up and unable to move. You are positioned at a switch that can divert the trolley to its side track. If you do nothing, the trolley will continue on its current path and kill the five people ahead of it; if you pull the switch, you will divert the trolley onto the side track, killing the one person tied up there.
What would a utilitarian like Mill say is the right thing to do in this scenario? Would they think it matters who is tied to the tracks? Do you agree?
Objection Objections to Utilitarianism
Pleasure should not be the highest aim.
Mill directly addresses several objections to utilitarianism in this work. Here are some of the most important, along with Mill's responses.
Objection: The idea that pleasure is the highest aim of human life makes us no better than base animals.
Now, such a theory of life arouses utter dislike in many minds, including some that are among the most admirable in feeling and purpose. The view that life has (as they express it) no higher end —no better and nobler object of desire and pursuit— than pleasure they describe as utterly mean and grovelling, a doctrine worthy only of pigs .
The accusation implies that human beings are capable only of pleasures that pigs are also capable of. If this were true, there’d be no defence against the charge, but then it wouldn’t be a charge; for if the sources of pleasure were precisely the same for humans as for pigs, the rule of life that is good enough for them would be good enough for us. The comparison of the utilitarian life to that of beasts is felt as degrading precisely because a beast’s pleasures do not satisfy a human’s conceptions of happiness. Human beings have higher faculties than the animal appetites, and once they become conscious of them they don’t regard anything as happiness that doesn’t include their gratification.
Utilitarianism Is Burdensome
Objection: Utilitarianism sets unrealistically high moral standards.
Objectors sometimes find fault with utilitarianism’s standard as being too high for humanity. To require people always to act from the motive of promoting the general interests of society—that is demanding too much, they say.
This is to confuse the rule of action with the motive for acting. It is the business of ethics to tell us what are our duties, or by what test we can know them; but no system of ethics requires that our only motive in everything we do shall be a feeling of duty; on the contrary, ninety-nine hundredths of all our actions are done from other motives, and rightly so if the rule of duty doesn’t condemn them. It is especially unfair to utilitarianism to object to it on the basis of this particular misunderstanding, because utilitarian moralists have gone beyond almost everyone in asserting that the motive has nothing to do with the morality of the action though it has much to do with the worth of the agent. He who saves a fellow creature from drowning does what is morally right, whether his motive is duty or the hope of being paid for his trouble; he who betrays a friend who trusts him is guilty of a crime, even if his aim is to serve another friend to whom he is under greater obligations.
The Felicific Calculus Is Impractical
Objection: In practice, it is not feasible to calculate which action will maximize overall utility every time we face a decision.
Before acting, one doesn’t have time to calculate and weigh the effects on the general happiness of any line of conduct.
This is just like saying: "Before acting, one doesn’t have time on each occasion to read through the Old and New Testaments; so it is impossible for us to guide our conduct by Christianity." The answer to the objection is that there has been plenty of time, namely, the whole past duration of the human species. During all that time, mankind has been learning by experience what sorts of consequences actions are apt to have, this being something on which all the morality of life depends. The objectors talk as if the start of this course of experience had been put off until now, so that when some man feels tempted to meddle with the property or life of someone else he has to start at that moment considering for the first time whether murder and theft are harmful to human happiness!
If mankind were agreed in considering utility to be the test of morality, they would reach agreement about what is useful, and would arrange for their notions about this to be taught to the young and enforced by law and opinion. Any ethical standard whatever can easily be "shown" to work badly if we suppose universal idiocy to be conjoined with it! But on any hypothesis short of that, mankind must by this time have acquired positive beliefs as to the effects of some actions on their happiness; and the beliefs that have thus come down to us from the experience of mankind are the rules of morality for the people in general—and for the philosopher until he succeeds in finding something better.
Utilitarianism Enables Hypocrisy
Objection: Utilitarianism opens the door to dishonest defenses of bad behavior.
We are told that a utilitarian will be apt to make his own particular case an exception to moral rules; and that when he is tempted to do something wrong he will see more utility in doing it than in not doing it.
Is utilitarianism the only morality that can provide us with excuses for evil doing, and means of cheating our own conscience? Of course not! Such excuses are provided in abundance by all doctrines that recognise the existence of conflicting considerations as a fact in morals; and this is recognized by every doctrine that any sane person has believed. It is the fault not of any creed but of the complicated nature of human affairs that rules of conduct can’t be formulated so that they require no exceptions, and hardly any kind of action can safely be stated to be either always obligatory or always condemnable.
Every ethical creed gives the morally responsible agent some freedom to adapt his behaviour to special features of his circumstances; and under every creed, at the opening thus made, self-deception and dishonest reasoning get in. Every moral system allows for clear cases of conflicting obligation. If utility is the basic source of moral obligations, utility can be invoked to decide between obligations whose demands are incompatible. The utility standard may be hard to apply, but it is better than having no standard. In other systems, the moral laws all claim independent authority, so that there’s no common umpire entitled to settle conflicts between them; when one of them is claimed to have precedence over another, the basis for this is little better than sophistry, allowing free scope for personal desires and preferences — unless the conflict is resolved by the unadmitted influence of considerations of utility.
This digital essay was prepared by Blake Ziegler and Justin Christy.
Model Essay – Utilitarianism
August 14, 2018.
To what extent, if any, is Utilitarianism a good theory for approaching moral decisions in life? (30/40 Grade B)
Below is a sample essay from our book on Model Essays available in the shop. If you have an essay you’d be happy for us to include in our next selection please email it to me (preferably grade A or B standard). I will mark it with detailed comments for free if we use it. Other essays can be marked for £10 an essay – please buy an essay marking credit in the shop.
Arguably, the use of utilitarianism for the making of moral decisions is more detrimental to a society than it is beneficial. Indeed the very basis on which utilitarianism is founded, ‘happiness’ or ‘pleasure’, proves to be the first stumbling block. The ‘paradox of hedonism’ suggests that pleasure itself cannot be directly obtained. Instead, we must aim for more substantial conclusions, such as wealth or power – pleasure is merely a symptom that follows. This idea is most acutely explained by politician William Bennett: ‘Happiness is like a cat, If you try to coax it or call it, it will avoid you; it will never come. But if you pay no attention to it and go about your business, you’ll find it rubbing against your legs and jumping into your lap.’
Good. Excellent summary of the utilitarian problem that once you pursue happiness or pleasure as an end in itself it tends to elude you.
Therefore, to base one’s entire ethical approach to life on happiness, something which is so fleeting and indistinct, suddenly seems irrational. You need to mention a philosopher here such as Mill and ground the argument in what he says . If we cannot amass pleasure within ourselves, how can we be so vain as to assume we can recognise its form in others, particularly those we don’t know (e.g. in the case of a politician forming their policies on utilitarian principles.) That is not to say that the ‘pursuit of happiness’ in a wider sense will always be futile, but that one should make decisions independently, on grounds other than those utilitarian, and allow happiness to follow.
Is it not true to say we can assess polices looking backwards with hindsight because all the consequences are known, but not forwards when there are often unintended consequences? This paragraph is too general to be of much analytical quality – make sure you go straight into a philosophical theory.
On the other hand, rule utilitarianism appears to offer a resolution. If one chooses to implement a pre-determined set of rules (e.g. to avoid lying, to be pacifistic, to be modest,) which predominantly bring about the most ‘pleasure’/good for society, then focus can be diverted away from pursuing you mean personal happiness here happiness, and instead towards living a righteous life.
Yes, but again, you need to give this a theoretical grounding in Mill’s so-called ‘weak rule utilitarianism’ – Mill’s point is we are foolish to ignore the experience of people who have gone before us in terms of general rules or guidelines for creating the happy society. But when moral dilemmas occur we revert to being act utilitarians.
Jeremy Bentham (the father of modern utilitarianism) was somewhat of a polymath – to suggest that he was solely a ‘philosopher’ would be a vast understatement. This kind of comment is irrelevant to the question and a waste of time. Undoubtedly, he was also a great social reformer, basing his beliefs on the underlying principle of egalitarianism (i.e. equality for all.) However, in many ways, utilitarianism innately contradicts ‘egalité . ’
This paragraph is a good example of the kind of paragraph a highly analytical essay never contains because you are merely describing the life and times of Mr Bentham and not adding anything to the argument.
Initially a thought experiment experiment devised by the American philosopher Robert Nozick, ‘the utility monster,’ undermines the very equality for which Bentham’s philosophy once fought. Visualise a situation in which the hedonic calculus is being employed. In such a case, the intensity (quality) of the perceived happiness must be acknowledged. For illustration’s sake, imagine rations are being distributed amongst a group of isolated individuals. However, one of these individuals appears to gain a disproportionately high intensity of pleasure on receiving food, despite all other individuals being of an equally critical state of health (e.g. starvation.) To apply the hedonic calculus would not only (unfairly) favour the minority, but also pose a great risk to the majority (assuming that the individual’s pleasure is greater than the collective pleasure of the majority.)
Ye s this is a good point but it wouldn’t apply to Mill’s theory because social utility would mean we need principles of justice, otherwise any of us would be permanently miserable at just the thought of a utility monster.
The most valid counterargument to which is proposed by the British philosopher Derek Parfit, arguing that the scale of happiness should be seen as asymptotic rather than linear. That is, the happiness of a utility monster cannot perpetually increase, but will eventually reach a point near enough to ‘complete’ happiness. Hence, such a being is not conceivable. This argument bears a strong resemblance to prioritarianism, which suggests that individuals on the lower end of the ‘pleasure spectrum’ will obtain a greater amount of happiness (‘per unit of utility’) than those closer to the reverse end.
Again a good point and actually illustrating what economists call the principle of diminishing marginal utility – we eventually have less and less satisfaction as an individual until at some point we experience no satisfaction at all.
Or, to some extent, the intensity of happiness could thereby be omitted from the hedonic calculus to account for the utility monster. However, there is also a troubling flaw with the seventh principle – ‘extent,’ or the amount of people that a particular moral choice may affect. Counterintuitively, the one society which utilitarianism does not appear to permit, is a microcosmic ‘utopia.’ When summating the pleasure of individuals, the greatest amount will be achieved, theoretically, by an extremely populous group with indifferent levels of happiness rather than a very small but extremely contented group. This is known as the ‘repugnant conclusion.’
Interesting and unusual point. Which philosopher talks about this problem?
In counterargument one might say, ‘the average pleasure should supersede the total amount of pleasure’ for this particular instance. Yet this line of argument spawns issues of its own. A simple average can easily be skewed by extremities. Such that one individual in a state of euphoria would significantly raise the average happiness of his miserable counterparts. Under the aforementioned, atrocities such as slavery could feasibly be justified. What’s the suffering of one thousand imprisoned subordinates if the overseer is delighted by the recent success of his cotton farm? Utilitarianism, in this context, seeks to diminish the more valuable pursuits (charity, liberal arts) over the happiness one gains through materialism (e.g. the wealth garnered from a cotton farm.)
Even if all the preceding shortcomings were to be deemed permissible, there is still a flaw which is perhaps the most pertinent of all. Humans, by their very nature, are unable to reliably predict consequence, and without consequence, the principle of utilitarianism is worthless. Given the nature of the ‘ripple effect,’ it would be naive to assume that every possible consequence of even the simplest of decisions could be accounted for. Or moreover, to predict the ways in which people would (potentially dangerously,) apply utilitarianism if it were to be adopted as a global ethic.
Yes, again a very good point.
Even attempting to apply such a primitive, nebulous philosophy to an infinite diversity of ethical decisions seems rather unrefined. Despite superficially appearing succinct and rational, the impracticalities of achieving ‘the greatest amount of pleasure for the greatest number of people’ cannot be overlooked. Indeed, utilitarianism is theoretically sound but there are far too many exceptional cases for it to be one’s ruling principle.
‘Primitive’ and ‘nebulous’ are rather emotive (rude) words to use of a philosophy that has guided Government policy for years. Welfare is another word for happiness (just a little more neutral!).In Politics and Economics we use social welfare measures to evaluate our decisions – as it is impartial.
Overall 30/40 75% Grade B
The essay has some very interesting points to make. However, it would not achieve an A* because the establishment of how the utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill actually works is rather thin. Particularly, there is little substance about how Mill’s weak rule utilitarianism actually works, and how some argue that rule utilitarianism collapses into act utilitarianism. In terms of social benefits versus individual benefits the candidate needs to bring out how this operates in Mill’s theory, and how he grounds the final chapter of his essay on justice as a fundamental prerequisite of the happy society. Mill also moves his whole argument much closer to Aristotle as he writes his essay – leading some to call him an inconsistent utilitarian because he can’t quite decide whether to go for qualitative pleasures or another concept of long-term welfare that is closer to eudaimonia in Aristotelean thought. It is lighter on AO1 marks than AO2 but seems to miss some of the analytical steps necessary to be a really compelling argument.
AO1 Level 4 10/16
A good demonstration of knowledge and understanding. Addresses the question well. Good selection of relevant material, used appropriately on the whole. Mostly accurate knowledge which demonstrates good understanding of the material used, which should have reasonable amounts of depth or breadth. A good range of scholarly views.
It is ‘good’ because it contains a very strong critical thesis. But it is neither very good nor excellent because the precise detail of how Bentham’s and Mills theories work is lacking – it is assumed rather than stated and established and analysed. For example, there is an interesting relationship in Mill between higher and lower pleasures and act and rue utilitarianism whereby we should, Mill argues, generally follow a rule which past experience suggest will maximise social happiness but when we face a moral dilemma we revert to being an act utilitarian. There is also an ambiguity in the question which is never considered – moral decisions for whom?
AO2 level 5 20/24
A very good demonstration of analysis and evaluation in response to the question. successful and clear analysis, evaluation and argument. Views very well stated, coherently developed and justified. There is a well–developed and sustained line of reasoning which is coherent, relevant and logically structured.
It would have been excellent if there had been a little more engagement with the academic philosophers who produce the arguments, rather than just the arguments themselves.
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10 Utilitarianism Examples (Plus Pros and Cons)
The core idea of utilitarianism is that we ought to act in a way that maximizes happiness for the greatest number. So, the morally right action is, according to utilitarians, the action that produces the most good.
Examples of utilitarianism include effective altruism, bulldozing someone’s home for a highway, and redistribution of excess money from the rich to the poor.
It is an ethical theory developed to determine what we morally ought to do. It is a variety of consequentialism . That is, utilitarianism takes the consequences that action produces as the only relevant factor to determining whether that action is or isn’t morally permissible.
Utilitarianism is the view that one ought to promote maximal well-being, welfare, or utility. The theory evaluates the moral rightness of actions, rules, policies, motives, virtues, social institutions, etc. in terms of what delivers the most good to the most people.
According to MacAskill, Meissner, and Chappell (2022), all utilitarian theories share four defining characteristics:
- Consequentialism: The view that one ought to act in a way that promotes good outcomes.
- Welfarism: The view that only the welfare or well-being of individuals determines the value of an outcome.
- Impartiality: The view that the identity of individuals is irrelevant to the moral value of an outcome. The interests of all individuals hold equal moral weight.
- Aggregationism: The view that the value of the world is the sum of the values of its parts. The parts are experiences, lives, societies, and so on.
Any theory that denies any of the elements above is not utilitarian. For example, a non-consequentialist might hold that actions can be inherently right or wrong regardless of the outcomes they produce.
Utilitarian Case study: Jeremy Bentham
A key feature of utilitarianism has always been its focus on practical action. Jeremy Bentham was one person who highlighted this in his writing.
He advocated for the rights of animals when there were no laws protecting animals from cruelty. He advocated for improving the conditions of prisoners and the poor.
Utilitarians advocated for broadening suffrage to extend it to women. They advocated for women’s rights more generally. Bentham advocated for homosexual rights. In these and many other areas, utilitarians supported policies that are today part of common sense (Lazari-Radek & Singer, 2017).
Other important contributors to utilitarianism include John Stuart Mill (1871), Henry Sidgwick (1874), Richard M. Hare (1993), and Peter Singer (Lazari-Radek & Singer, 2017).
- Redistributing money to the poor : Wealth and income have a diminishing marginal utility. The more wealth you have, the less well-being you get from additional money. It is, therefore, a utilitarian choice of a government to redistribute money to the poor who need it more than the rich do (MacAskill & Meissner, 2022).
- Effective altruism : Effective altruism is a research field that aims to identify the world’s most vital problems and tries to find the most effective solutions to them. This is a philosophy and social movement endorsed by many utilitarians, most notably Peter Singer and William MacAskill. Not all effective altruists are utilitarians, but many utilitarians find this movement especially appealing.
- Global health and development : This is a particularly important area for utilitarians because it has a great track record of improving overall well-being. Donating to organizations that give people access to better healthcare is one of the most important causes for utilitarians.
- Farm animal welfare : For utilitarians, animals matter and humans are the cause of a large amount of their unnecessary suffering. There are ways to reduce the suffering of farmed animals. These include campaigns to make large retailers cut caged eggs out of their supply chains, donating money to animal charities, reducing meat consumption, improving the quality of animal shelters or farms, and so on.
- Reducing existential risks : The value of our actions, according to utilitarians, depends largely on how those actions will affect the future in the long run. Existential threats such as a nuclear war, a global pandemic, extreme climate change, and so on are, therefore, of pressing concern for utilitarians.
- Career choices : Many utilitarians emphasize the importance of choosing a career path that allows you to do the most overall good in the long run. This doesn’t involve much of a personal sacrifice, since the job you find satisfying is very often the one that allows you to help the largest number of people.
- Outreach : Promoting utilitarian ideas is itself considered by many utilitarians to be a morally good action. This is because promoting utilitarian ideas is likely to increase the overall well-being of individuals. The people you inspire will do several times as much good as you could have done alone.
- Women’s suffrage: Philosopher Jeremy Bentham argued for women’s suffrage from a universalist perspective. By increasing women’s rights, benefits are distributed to a greater number of people and therefore it suits a utilitarian ethic.
- Bulldoze a house to build a highway: If a house stands in the way of a highway being built, a utilitarian perspective may argue that the house should be bulldozed. More benefit to more people will come from one person losing their house in return for millions of people getting faster access to work every day. This is called the ‘rights objection’ to utilitarianism.
- Organ transplant hypothesis: There is a hospital with five people requiring transplants – a heart, a kidney, a foot, a liver, and bone marrow. The greatest good for the most people could theoretically justify killing one person so their organs can be donated to save five people.
Pros of Utilitarianism
- Simplicity : The core of utilitarianism is easy to understand and apply. The fundamental question of ethics is: “What should I do?” Utilitarianism gives a very straightforward answer: The right thing to do is to bring about the greatest possible net increase in the surplus of happiness over suffering. This short answer gives everything one might need, at least in principle, to analyze what one ought to do in any possible situation (Lazari-Radek & Singer, 2017, p. xix).
- Intuitiveness : It is impossible to prove all claims within a given theory. As Ludwig Wittgenstein pointed out, “at the foundation of well-founded belief lies belief that is not founded” (Wittgenstein, 1969, p. 33). Intuitiveness is, therefore, a vital aspect of any moral theory. The axiomatic parts of any ethical theory must be intuitive for the theory to be successful or convincing. Acting to promote the greatest good for the greatest number intuitively seems like an aim worth pursuing. This is because almost everyone agrees that happiness is good and suffering is bad.
- Practicality : Utilitarian theory is immediately practical. The historical record shows that the causes utilitarians advocated for, such as universal suffrage, animal rights, gay rights, global health, and so on have become more and more important for the world. Utilitarianism seems to be effective because it can be easily applied.
- Impartiality : The moral atrocities of the past were often sanctioned by the dominant societal norms of the time. A theory that is impartial and expands the moral circle as much as possible is, therefore, more appealing to us today. Utilitarianism, because of its commitment to giving equal weight to the interests of every individual, is impartial (Chappell & Meissner, 2022).
Cons of Utilitarianism
There are many objections to utilitarianism. Most of these are based on the idea that utilitarianism often leads to counterintuitive claims and conclusions about action (MacAskill et al., 2022).
The following list is incomplete, but it covers the most common objections raised against utilitarianism:
- The alienation objection claims that utilitarianism is cold and impersonal, thereby alienating us from the particular people and projects that truly matter to us.
- The demandingness objection claims that utilitarianism is too demanding because it requires excessive self-sacrifice.
- The equality objection claims that utilitarianism ignores, or doesn’t give enough value to equality and distributive justice .
- The mere means objection claims that utilitarianism treats people merely as means to the greater good. This objection is particularly popular with the followers of Kant (Kant, 1785/1993, p. 36).
- The rights objection charges utilitarianism with being overly permissive, claiming that utilitarianism might allow infringing upon the rights of others to maximize overall well-being.
- The separateness of persons objection claims that utilitarianism neglects the boundaries between individuals to maximize overall well-being.
- The special obligations objection holds that utilitarianism is too impartial and does not account for the special obligations we have to our friends or family members.
Utilitarianism is one of the most widespread and intuitive approaches to ethics. It gives straightforward answers and actionable advice to those who subscribe to it.
Like any moral theory, it has many arguments for and against it. It was first fully articulated in the nineteenth century and is still an important and controversial ethical theory.
Bentham, J. (1879). An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation . Clarendon Press.
Brink, D. (2022). Mill’s Moral and Political Philosophy. In E. N. Zalta & U. Nodelman (Eds.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2022). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2022/entries/mill-moral-political/
Chappell, R.Y. and Meissner, D. (2022). Arguments for Utilitarianism. In R.Y. Chappell, D. Meissner, and W. MacAskill (eds.), An Introduction to Utilitarianism . https://www.utilitarianism.net/arguments-for-utilitarianism , accessed 11/18/2022.
Driver, J. (2022). The History of Utilitarianism. In E. N. Zalta & U. Nodelman (Eds.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2022). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2022/entries/utilitarianism-history/
Hare, R. M. (1993). Essays in Ethical Theory . Clarendon Press.
Kant, I. (1993). Grounding for the metaphysics of morals ; with, On a supposed right to lie because of philanthropic concerns . Indianapolis : Hackett Pub. Co. (Original work published 1785) http://archive.org/details/groundingformet000kant
Lazari-Radek, K. de, & Singer, P. (2017). Utilitarianism: A Very Short Introduction . Oxford University Press.
MacAskill, W. and Meissner, D. (2022). Acting on Utilitarianism. In R.Y. Chappell, D. Meissner, and W. MacAskill (eds.), An Introduction to Utilitarianism . https://www.utilitarianism.net/acting-on-utilitarianism , accessed 11/18/2022.
MacAskill, W., Meissner, D., and Chappell, R.Y. (2022). Introduction to Utilitarianism. In R.Y. Chappell, D. Meissner, and W. MacAskill (eds.), An Introduction to Utilitarianism . https://www.utilitarianism.net/introduction-to-utilitarianism , accessed 11/18/2022.
MacAskill, W., Meissner, D., and Chappell, R.Y. (2022). Objections to Utilitarianism and Responses. In R.Y. Chappell, D. Meissner, and W. MacAskill (eds.), An Introduction to Utilitarianism . https://www.utilitarianism.net/objections-to-utilitarianism , accessed 11/18/2022.
Mill, J. S. (1871). Utilitarianism . Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer.
Sidgwick, H. (1874). The Methods of Ethics . Macmillan.
Wittgenstein, L. (1969). On Certainty . Basil Blackwell.
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Home — Essay Samples — Philosophy — Philosophical Movements — Utilitarianism
Essays on Utilitarianism
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The Philosophy of Utilitarianism: Balancing Ethics and Morality
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Act Vs. Rule Utilitarian: Comparison of Mill’s Adopted Stances
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Deontology & Utilitarianism: Critical Perspectives
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139 Utilitarianism Essay Topics
🏆 best essay topics on utilitarianism, 👍 good utilitarianism essay topics to write about, 🎓 most interesting utilitarianism research titles, 💡 simple utilitarianism essay ideas, ❓ questions about utilitarianism.
- Human Trafficking from Perspectives of Deontology, Utilitarianism and Egoism This paper provides insight into human trafficking using deontology, utilitarianism, and the perspective of egoism to show if it is ethical to abduct people for forced labour.
- Utilitarianism and Corporate Social Responsibility Utilitarianism can be applied in the corporate world. Corporations are entities created to please shareholders.
- Utilitarianism: John Stuart Mill’s Philosophical Views Utilitarianism is about actions that make individuals happy. The paper studies notions of the greatest happiness, and explains why general happiness is desirable.
- Utilitarianism and Its Favorable Features The main distinctive feature of utilitarianism is its attempt to classify numerous acts, happiness and provide a credible rationale for this classification.
- Utilitarianism Advantages and Disadvantages Utilitarianism is a branch of moral philosophy that promotes the idea that the means applied can be justified by the results obtained.
- Utilitarianism Theory: Applications and Issues Although the theory of utilitarianism appears to be relevant or applicable in most daily situations, there are deep underlying challenges associated with the concept.
- Utilitarianism and Deontology in Business It should be stated that the business ethics can be viewed in two different dimensions, namely the utilitarian and deontological.
- “Utilitarianism” Essay by John Stuart Mill “Utilitarianism” by John Stuart Mill belongs to the number of the most famous works focusing on the role of utility in the life of any society.
- Utilitarianism: Poverty Reduction Through Charity This paper shows that poverty levels can be reduced if wealthy individuals donate a part of their earnings, using the main principles of the utilitarian theory.
- Utilitarianism Theory and Its Subtypes In general, utilitarianism is a theory in ethics that claims that the best actions are the ones that provide maximum utility.
- Utilitarianism: Moral Ideals and Practical Ethics Every person regularly has to make choices of the moral character. While the law clearly defines, what is right or wrong, life does not seem to be that uniform.
- Utilitarianism and Abortion: Mill’s Principle of Utility and Bentham’s Felicific Calculus The issue of abortion is often approached from spiritual or religious standpoints, and utilitarianism arguably has the potential to provide a refreshing perspective.
- Utilitarianism in the Ebola Controversy of 2014 This essay applies the principles of utilitarianism to the Ebola controversy of 2014 to evaluate their practicability.
- Utilitarianism as a Science of Society Utilitarianism is an ethical theory based on the idea that human actions should bring the best possible consequences.
- Criminal Scheme: Utilitarianism and Deontology This paper will look into the issues concerning Bernie Madoff who has been involved in the Ponzi scheme on the basis of utilitarianism and deontological ethics.
- Utilitarianism Theory: Value and Disadvantages The author argues that, according to the utilitarianism theory happiness is an important result, but at the same time, consequences such as justice or equality are of great value.
- Moral Theories: Utilitarianism, Duty-Based Ethics and Virtue-Based Ethics From the assessment of each theory, it can be seen that virtue based ethics can be considered less pragmatic, a feature which is more suitable for moral assessment.
- The Main Risks of the Utilitarianism The Utilitarianism can be defined as the idea that maximizes or minimizes the preferences of utility. John Stuart Mill is a proponent of this theoryu
- Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill According to Mill, utilitarianism must be the standard to be used for making moral decisions and that every person on earth operates on this principle whether they are aware of it or not.
- Animal Exploitation and Utilitarianism The concept of animal welfare is connected to utilitarianism as the latter operates the notions of pleasure and pain of any animate beings.
- Different Aspects of Utilitarianism This paper determines utilitarianism that refers to a theory, which teaches that the course of any action should be that which ensures pleasure.
- Virtues, Utilitarianism, and Deontological Ethics In the paper, different outlooks on ethics and morality will be examined on the basis of virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics.
- Comparison of Utilitarianism and Christian Ethics This paper will present a detailed analysis of utilitarianism theory and contrast it with a Christian ethic to explain why the latter is stronger in addressing the issue of suicide.
- Capital Punishment form Utilitarianism Perspective The admittance of capital punishment presents a controversial question these days, and multiple opinions are expressed on this topic.
- Utilitarianism and Protection of People’s Rights Among criticisms targeted at the ethical theory of utilitarianism is one that states that it fails to protect people’s rights and freedoms.
- Does Utilitarianism Pose a Threat to Rights? Utilitarianism and rights can be juxtaposed, as utilitarianism denies the absolute nature of ethical rights and proclaims universal happiness as the only worthwhile goal.
- Why Practicing Utilitarianism is Important Philosophy is an integral part of every person’s worldview and outlook on life which they espouse and through which they interpret various phenomena.
- Immoral Actions and Utilitarianism The paper discusses utilitarianism. It is one of the directions in ethics, the leading position of which is the usefulness of actions.
- Utilitarianism vs. Deontology in Case of Betrayal Ethics often asks questions of choice. In the case the ethical dilemma of Utilitarianism vs. Deontology appears.
- Utilitarianism Applications and Criticism Utilitarianism can be viewed as a form of consequentialism that focuses on the results of actions and decisions.
- Kant’s Morality and Utilitarianism Morality is impossible without freedom, since if a person’s actions are determined by the will of God or the laws of nature, then one cannot speak of morality or morality.
- Why Utilitarianism Is the Best Moral System This paper discusses the ideas and principles of utilitarianism, the advantages and critique of utilitarianism, and why utilitarianism is the best moral system.
- Comparing Two Ethical Approaches: Utilitarianism and Social Contract Ethics Ethical norms regulate the relationship between people in society, and this paper aims to analyze the examples of utilitarianism and social contract ethics in action.
- The Utilitarianism Theory by John Stuart Mill According to Mill’s utilitarianism theory, the use of morally permissible violence is wrong as it directly affects the happiness of a person that violence is acted upon.
- Animal Experimentation: The Theory of Utilitarianism This moral issue concerns animal experimentation. It is related to the theory of Utilitarianism, the idea of which induces preference of practical changes over morally obstacles.
- Handling Ethically Challenging Situations: Utilitarianism and Deontology The paper aims to study approaches to handling different ethically challenging situations from the utilitarianism and the deontological perspective.
- Virtue, Utilitarianism, and Deontology A set of guiding principles – morality – focuses on the core of what allows people to live in unified communities. Morality sets what society considers acceptable and right.
- Utilitarianism as the Only Effective Paradigm Utilitarianism developed in the eighteenth century is still employed in modern society as the central philosophical paradigm that frames the creation of laws and norms.
- Utilitarianism and the Civil War The civil war in America can be justified by utilitarianism since the moral reform of slavery was central to the conflict.
- Utilitarianism and PR During the Pandemic The principle of utilitarianism in the PR sphere contradicts the modern ethical paradigm because it cannot fully provide the ability to make decisions.
- Utilitarianism Theory Applied to Western Democracy According to the theory of utilitarianism, there are ethical norms that must be followed. As a result, they overlook the other virtues that favor the few.
- The Theory of the Act Utilitarianism Act utilitarianism is a theory of ethics stating that any act of a person is morally right only if it creates the greatest good for the majority.
- Ethical Reasoning: Utilitarianism & Universal Ethics Luke has been invited to work on a project involving the development of property recently bought by ABC for the construction of an adult entertainment retail store.
- Utilitarianism as a Concept Embedded in Human Nature The importance of people’s relationships can be seen starting from simple human relations and their continuation to economic ties between countries.
- Death Penalty: The Utilitarianism Ethical Theory Utilitarianism gives moral justification for the death penalty as long as it promotes society’s total well-being, approval, and happiness.
- The Catholic Church’s Deontology and Utilitarianism Perspectives This paper compares and contrasts the Catholic Church’s deontology and utilitarianism perspectives, underpinned by the natural law and divine command theory.
- The Theory of Utilitarianism: Philosophical Issues The philosophy of utilitarianism is oriented toward providing life with the least amount of suffering for most human beings.
- The Utilitarianism Argument for Public Policy Utilitarianism supports actions that increase happiness and opposes actions that cause unhappiness with the ultimate goal of making the whole society better.
- Virtue Ethics Versus Utilitarianism Virtue ethics is an ethical theory that emphasizes character above behavior. The concept underscores the importance of mentality and personality.
- Utilitarianism vs. Cultural and Ethical Relativism
- Kantian Deontology, Utilitarianism, and Virtue Ethics
- The Merits and Draw Backs of Utilitarianism
- Utilitarianism and the Case for Euthanasia
- Qualitative and Quantitative Pleasures Come Out of Utilitarianism
- Discrimination and Affirmative Action and Their Connection to Utilitarianism and Deontological Concerns
- Utilitarianism: For the Greater Good
- Utilitarianism: Ethics and Contemporary Organizational Communication
- Climate Policy Under Sustainable Discounted Utilitarianism
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- Utilitarianism: Pros and Cons
- Understanding the Concept Behind the Contemporary Utilitarianism Theory
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- Utilitarianism, Invariance Principles and the von Neumann-Morgenstern Hypothesis
- The Mere Addition Paradox, Parity and Critical-Level Utilitarianism
- Utilitarianism and the Role of Utility in Adam Smith
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- Climate Change Economics and Discounted Utilitarianism
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- Pro-Utilitarianism and Ethical Decision-Making
- Utilitarianism With Prior Heterogeneity
- Problems and Prospects for Utilitarianism
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- Wealth and Population Growth Under Dynamic Average Utilitarianism
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- Helvétius and the Problems of Utilitarianism
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- Utilitarianism, Egalitarianism, and the Timing Effect in Social Choice Problems
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- Utilitarianism and the Objection of Individual Rights Philosophy
- Ethical Theory, Utilitarianism and Kant’s Theory
- Does Utilitarianism Violate Human Rights?
- What Is the Difference Between Act Utilitarianism and Rule Utilitarianism?
- How Does Utilitarianism Judge an Action if It Is Morally Right or Wrong?
- Why Do People Reject Utilitarianism?
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- How Does Utilitarianism Judge What Is Right or Wrong in Each Case?
- What Is Utilitarianism Approach in Ethics?
- Does Utilitarianism Provide a Helpful Method of Moral Decision Making?
- What Is the Relation Between Suffering and Happiness in Utilitarianism?
- How Does Peter Singer Use Utilitarianism?
- Does Rule Utilitarianism Collapse Act Utilitarianism?
- What Are the Disadvantages of Utilitarianism?
- How Does Utilitarianism Affect Healthcare Decision Making?
- Can We Apply Utilitarianism in Our Daily Lives?
- Why Is Jeremy Bentham Considered the Father of Utilitarianism?
- Does Utilitarianism Fail to Preserve Human Rights?
- How Successful Was J.S. Mill in Overcoming the Problems Associated With Bentham’s Utilitarianism?
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109 Utilitarianism Essay Topic Ideas & Examples
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- Utilitarianism vs Libertarianism: Examples and Facts In libertarianism, the libertarians’ perceives the government as the one that threatens peoples’ rights. It is not suitable for the government to dictate the life of an individual.
- The Utilitarianism Theory in Society Therefore, utilitarianism should lead to an increase in happiness of the society. In utilitarianism, rules are necessary in the governing of the actions.
- Introduction to the Utilitarianism Theory The good in the action is what is focused on and not what it leads to. This is in disregard of Bentham’s thought that pleasure is the same qualitatively and the only thing that matters […]
- Utilitarianism Theory Application in Duelling Dilemma The claimants in this scenario consist of the government of the PRC, those protesting against the censorship and the general public who might not be aware of such attempts by the government.
- Utilitarianism for Animals: Testing and Experimentation There are alternatives in testing drugs such as tissue culture of human cells and hence this is bound to be more accurate in the findings.
- Analyzing the Differences between Utilitarianism and Libertarianism: Ethical Issues and Moral Judgments As Luntley says, t6he first and the foremost is the ability to make sure that the truth is independent from judgment.
- Humanity Theories: Utilitarianism Second, the theory of deontology embraces the concept of duty and adherence to rule. However, this theory does not refer to physical happiness, but that of the mind and soul.
- Utilitarianism as a Teleological Theory Therefore, in the interest of maximizing happiness for both parties, human beings are supposed to be vegetarians and animals are supposed to enjoy their freedom as animals.
- Limitations of Utilitarianism The reasoning is that the greater good would be to kill one person, as opposed to five because the happiness of five people is much greater than that of one.
- Concept of Utilitarianism Theory The good thing about the utilitarianism theory relates to the notion that it is the simplest form of any applicable ethical system.
- Principles of Utilitarianism At this point, the utilitarian theory is also associated with the tools that can provide individuals and community with happiness through recognition of felicity as the foundation of all human actions.
- Utilitarianism Theory Essay At the center of the utilitarian argument that shifts from the concern we physically have for our personal feelings of pain and pleasure, to others feelings of pain and pleasure, is the belief that this […]
- Analysis of News Article Using Act Utilitarianism and Kant’s Categorical Imperative The other issue in consideration is that of the black market which is supposedly benefiting due to the lack of a legal market for body organs.
- Justice Theory: Business Ethics, Utilitarianism, Rights, Caring, and Virtue The foremost portion of business ethics understands the theory of rights as one of the core principles in the five-item ethical positions that deem essential in the understanding of moral business practices.
- Utilitarianism: Death Penalty: Utilitarian View on Capital Punishment Essay Another significant benefit offered by the death penalty to the society is that it leads to the permanent incapacitation of the convicted person.
- The Application of the Principle of Utilitarianism in Explaining the Death Penalty However, the theory supports a form of punishment when the level of suffering is so high that it is beneficial to society.
- Utilitarianism: The Moral Story of Flight 93 Considering the huge negative repercussions of Flight 93 in terms of loss of lives, destruction of invaluable resources and a series of other harmful consequences; as a utilitarian, one would argue that shooting the plane […]
- Media Ethics: Towards Employing Utilitarianism and Kantian Theory in Examining Practical Ethical Issues In the claim, it is clearly evident that the author would choose the action that has a greater impact and helps more people that of continuing to film instead of lending a hand.
- Utilitarianism and Deontology: The Case of Coca Cola This is one of the deontological rights that the company may have under deontological ethics; it must not be condemned for the reason that its products cause obesity to young children.
- Strengths and Weaknesses of Utilitarianism Essay Ross is of the view that people do not undertake tasks because they are aware of the consequences of their actions; rather, the decision to undertake such tasks is propelled by a promise that they […]
- Resolving Ethical Issues in the Workplace: Utilitarianism and Kantian Ethics The ethical issue in question is in regard to whether Alice should report the huge error she has discovered in Mark’s nutritional reporting to the company’s upper management.
- Peter Singer and John Rawls on Utilitarianism Consequently, we should not engage in slavery even if utilitarianism theory assumes that such engagement may produce pleasure, happiness, and contentment to the majority or the greatest number of people.
- Utilitarianism and Natural law theories This may be done with the interest of the society at heart where, the person wants to improve the well being of everyone else in the community.
- Examples of Utilitarianism in Business: Utilitarianism Case Study This argument has led to the development of the second premise in the theory, which states that in order for actions and decisions to qualify as right and moral, they must appeal to the happiness […]
- Sandel’s Analysis of Utilitarianism and Libertarianism It is therefore important to point out the circumstances that led to the creation of the U.S.political system that incorporated the principles of utilitarianism and libertarianism.
- Utilitarianism and Human Resource Management In order to fully comprehend the effects of the United States president on the Bill of Rights denial, it is imperative to understand the provisions of the utilitarianism and the significance of Bill of Rights […]
- Utilitarianism in Government In the modern society, the government applies utilitarianism with the sole purpose of offering an answer to the practical question asking what should be done in society to improve the conditions of living.
- Utilitarianism and Social Contract Theories Unfortunately, there is limited information about the limits of the rights of individuals and this makes most people abuse the freedoms of others.
- Utilitarianism’ Critique by B. Williams and P. Pettit Consequentialism is a concept in normative ethics that opines that the goodness or badness of an action is determined by the impacts of the action and not the motive of the doer.
- Philosophy Issues: Kantianism and Utilitarianism Utilitarianism can be explained using the principle of ‘the end justifies the means’, meaning if the end of a processor action is good, then the means of arriving at that end are also good and […]
- Philosophy Issues: Utilitarianism or Deontology? Regardless of the extent to which some people are opposed to the applications of moral principles, which should be consistent with the scriptures of God, they are used to produce the best results in communities.
- Defensive Approach: Utilitarianism The utilitarian attitude towards rights is that the moral ‘right’ is built on the basis of utilitarian aspects, especially on the principle that seeks to reduce pain and suffering of living organisms.
- Ethics of Relativism, Utilitarianism and Libertarianism Therefore, the concept is based on the fact that reality felt by an individual is bound to the culture or societal beliefs.
- Retributivism and Utilitarianism Theories Another approach to the question of punishment has a theory of utilitarianism. However, it is possible to suggest some fusing of these two different theories in an attempt to create some new approach to the […]
- Robert Nozick’ Ideas about Utilitarianism Nozick was of the view that people are not in a position to differentiate between their experiences when in the experience machine and when outside.
- Michael Sandel’s Objections to Utilitarianism The moral and intellectual pleasures were considered to be “highest pleasures”, and the experiences, that caused satisfaction of flesh were considered to be “lower pleasures”. The pleasures of the majority, in that case, are considered […]
- Comparing Utilitarianism with Immanuel Kant’s View On the other hand, the teleological ethical perspective states that the results for all actions matter in determining the nature of the undertaken decisions.
- Ethics: Egoism, Utilitarianism, Care and Virtue It is necessary to note that it is benign most of the time, but the issue is that such behavior may not be liked by other members of society, and it can lead to numerous […]
- Ethics of Divorce: Deontology and Utilitarianism Before analyzing the ethics of divorce, the paper first introduces the subject of ethics followed by the theme of divorce in the contemporary societal settings.
- Virtue Ethics, Utilitarianism, and Deontology Utilitarianism relates to the concept of value in that the quality of something which is good is measured by the value attached to it.
- Utilitarianism in Ron Paul’s Rhetoric In fact, former Congressman Ron Paul believes that in order to create the most good, the best strategy is to reduce the involvement of big government in the affairs of men.
- Utilitarianism, Kantianism, Virtue Ethics, Egoism Quote: The amanagers of a corporation must take responsibility to fulfil their duties to their stockholders and to the public’. According to this normative theory, the utility can be described as anything that is related […]
- Act and Rule Utilitarianism in Decision Process On the basis of the act-utilitarianism, as an oncologist, I would give the trial drug to the genetics researcher since her recovery would benefit many people under the Malaria research.
- Deontology vs Utilitarianism in Medicine: Dray v. Staten Island Univ. Hosp. The ACOG and the AAP made a statement that even the most substantial evidence for the benefit of a fetus could not be considered as an ethical presumption to neglect the decision of a pregnant […]
- Difference Between Social Contract, Utilitarianism, Virtue and Deontology This essay gives a description of the differences in how ethical contractarianism, utilitarianism, virtue, and deontological ethics theories address ethics and morality.
- Virtue Theory, Utilitarianism and Deontological Ethics The foundation of utilitarianism theory is in the principle of utility. On the other hand, the theory of deontology embraces the concept of duty.
- Utilitarianism and Ethical Relativism The two ethical theories discussed in the reading that I found the most interesting were utilitarianism and ethical relativism. I believe that this ethical theory has numerous useful applications in the contemporary world and that […]
- Utilitarianism vs. Moral Relativism If to assume that moral relativism is true, then it is impossible to discuss good and bad outside the specific situation. Thus, their actions were morally wrong according to the assumptions of moral relativism.
- Utilitarianism as an Ethical Principle From this, he obtained the regulation of usefulness, that the good is anything that brings the maximum happiness to the maximum number of people.
- Utilitarianism: John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham The main difference between Mill’s and Bentham’s conception of Utilitarianism is that Mill, though a consequentialist, makes a case for the qualitative aspects of happiness.
- Act Utilitarianism: Term Definition The theory advocates for actions that bring a large amount of pleasure and little pain to the majority of the people or rather the course of actions that maximize happiness and minimize pain by considering […]
- Act and Rule Utilitarianism Considering that John is a drunkard who drove himself to the accident that led to the rapture of his kidney; the choice of giving him the kidney would be avoided based on the fact that […]
- Utilitarianism & Social Contract in Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well While Helena represented the lower class of the society and believed in the Utilitarianism values to the road of success, Bertram was much inclined towards the elements of social contract theory and its application.
- Elements of Utilitarianism as a Philosophical Theory First, in Utilitarianism, the decision-makers should not only consider the happiness that the decision brings but also the unhappiness or pain.
- The Difference Between Act and Rule Utilitarianism Utilitarianism emerged as a systematic theory at the end of the eighteenth century with the philosophical works of Jeremy Bentham, who created the “greatest happiness of the greatest number” formulation of the principle of utilitarianism.
- Abortion and the Theory of Act Utilitarianism One possible philosophical approach to the problem of choice in such sensitive issues as abortion is the theory of Utilitarianism measuring the moral value of the action.
- Virtue Ethics: Kantianism and Utilitarianism Despite the strengths and theoretical significance of both approaches, the theories of Aristotle and Aquinas suggest more flexibility and breadth in ethics interpretation as compared to rule-based theories.
- Utilitarianism Critique From Kantian Perspective In the words of Kant, utilitarianism cannot be used as a yardstick in the evaluation of human actions because it is not universal.
- Thomas More’s Utopia, Utilitarianism, and Technology Therefore, the meaning of “utopia” did not change to a tangible extent, as the modern meaning aligns with the one that More assigned to it.
- A Critique of Utilitarianism Utilitarianism is a philosophical theory that states that the morality of an action is based on its effects; any action that increases the pleasure and happiness of the greater majority is just.
- The Theory of Utilitarianism in the Global E-Commerce Business Dealings Generally, it is of importance that businesses and corporations in e-commerce ensure ideal and sincere dealings to meet the expected level of satisfaction by their clients.
- The Main Risks of Utilitarianism In this theory of act utilitarianism, is well stated that, when one is faced with a decision to make, the first thing to consider is the outcome of the potential deeds and, from that decide […]
- Capital Punishment: Utilitarianism and Retributivism Theories However, to rule out chances of an innocent person being punished, the theory advocates for justice; before punishment is administered, the court should proof beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty.
- Normative Ethics: Utilitarianism and Deontology In their refusal to do business with Wikileaks, the management of the bank of America was justified by reason that the actions of Wikileaks were inconsistent with the internal policies of the bank, and therefore, […]
- Ethical Concepts: Utilitarianism and Deontology Utilitarianism is primarily based on the outcome, where the one with the most amount of good is considered to be the right choice.
- Utilitarianism in Healthcare During the COVID-19 Pandemic This principle is particularly applicable to the lockdown situation by evaluating the number of lives that would be lost in the event of a lockdown.
- The Debate Over Utilitarianism While the writers offer objections to utilitarianism, they conclude that the concept has more benefits to society compared to the use of common sense in terms of morality.
- Utilitarianism Drawbacks in Business Decision-Making For instance, when choosing the appropriate manager to develop an IT project, the director ignores the candidates’ level of knowledge in this sphere due to their equality in this question.
- Act Utilitarianism and Virtue Ethics The theory greatly neglects and ignores the happiness of individual because everyone is on the run to be accepted morally to the society and tend to make individuals do what tends to make them happy.
- Act Utilitarianism and Virtue Ethics: Pros and Cons Therefore, act utilitarianism is better than virtue ethics since it is clear, concise, and focuses on the majority. Virtue ethics’ strengths can be utilized to enhance the act-utilitarianism theory.
- The Theory of Ethical Egoism and Utilitarianism A possible moral choice in the situation can also be interpreted from the point of view of the theory of existentialism and hedonism.
- Utilitarianism: Principles and Assumptions The philosopher argues that the accomplishment of the goal of solving the cases of stress must be based on an individual’s pleasure and actions that promote happiness. For instance, Bentham argues that the chain of […]
- The Theory of Utilitarianism by Jeremy Bentham According to utilitarianism, the greatest ethical action is the one that benefits society, and the value of each person is more significant than the value of a community.
- Vaccination and Utilitarianism Such an approach may be problematic for parents since they also have a moral obligation to act according to the best interests of their child.
- Morality in Utilitarianism and Deontology Followers of utilitarianism thus claim that an action is morally right when it increases the happiness of the involved parties and minimizes the harm.
- Ethical Implications in Business and Utilitarianism The organizational culture is essentially a set of moral, ethical, cultural, and managerial rules that regulate the interpersonal relationships in an organization, as well as communicate its agenda to the outside world.
- Utilitarianism: Ethical Theory in Healthcare The ethical theory addresses the main concepts: the intrinsic value of one’s happiness, the importance of operating under the premise of well-being as the primary value, and happiness being equally important regardless of the individual.
- Discussion: Ethics of Utilitarianism In the situation described with the purchase of a bag and a TV, the utilitarian ethic recommends that you donate to a charitable foundation, as this will increase happiness for more people.
- Deontology and Utilitarianism: Comparative Analysis The idea of the purpose justifying the means is central to utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is dependent on consequentiality since it asserts that the most moral thing to do is to use happiness for the benefit of […]
- What Is a Good Example of Utilitarianism?
- How Would Charles Darwin Critique John Stuart Mill in Utilitarianism?
- What Are Some Objections to Utilitarianism?
- What Are the Main Strengths and Weaknesses of Utilitarianism and Formalism?
- What Is Utilitarianism in Layman’s Terms?
- What’s the Difference Between Act and Rule Utilitarianism?
- How Does the Utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill Compare to Jeremy Bentham’s?
- What Is the Difference Between Pragmatism and Utilitarianism?
- How Would Aristotle Respond to Utilitarianism?
- What Are the Best Arguments for and Against Utilitarianism?
- Which Definition Best Describes Utilitarianism?
- What Are the Main Principles of Utilitarianism?
- What Is the Opposite of Utilitarianism?
- What Are the Three Types of Utilitarianism?
- Is Utilitarianism Fundamentally Opposed to Libertarianism?
- What Is the Relationship Between Utilitarianism and Consequentialism?
- Why Is Utilitarianism Called an Unfalsifiable Ethic?
- How Does Utilitarianism Differ Between John Stuart Mill and Peter Singer?
- Why Are INTJs Obsessed With the Philosophy of Utilitarianism?
- What Are the Criticisms of Utilitarianism?
- What Are the Best Arguments Against Utilitarianism and for Deontology?
- What Are the Two Key Objections to Utilitarianism?
- Is Democracy Based on Utilitarianism?
- What Does the Term Utilitarianism in English Literature Mean?
- Which Is Right: Utilitarianism, Deontology, or Some Combination of the Two?
- Why Is Utilitarianism Considered a Consequentialist Theory?
- How Can a Libertarian Refute a Progressive Plea to Utilitarianism?
- Who Came up With Utilitarianism?
- Where Was Utilitarianism Practiced?
- How Does Utilitarianism Threaten Individual Rights?
- Chicago (A-D)
- Chicago (N-B)
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IvyPanda . "109 Utilitarianism Essay Topic Ideas & Examples." September 21, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/utilitarianism-essay-topics/.
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