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Utilitarianism Essay, Research Paper

Utilitarianism

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What things are good? What actions are right? Utilitarianism is a moral rule defined by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill that can assist reply these inquiries. The whole footing of Utilitarianism is that pleasance is good, hurting is bad and every action one takes should maximise pleasance and minimise hurting. In this paper I will reason that although in rule this moral theory sounds great, in the practical concern universe, this theory fails to ever ensue in the right moral action.

Utilitarianism can be merely put as the theory that strives to ensue in the greatest felicity of the greatest figure. In Utilitarianism, felicity is the lone thing that is desirable. The useful philosophy is that felicity is desirable, and the lone thing desirable, as an terminal ; all other things being desirable as agencies to that terminal. Harmonizing to the theory, an action is good if it brings felicity. The foundation of Utilitarianism comes from the Principle of Utility. The Principle of Utility says that one should move in a manner that will convey more pleasance and less hurting. By the Principle of Utility is meant that rule which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, harmonizing to the inclination which it appears to hold to augment or decrease the felicity of the party whose involvement is in inquiry. Harmonizing to Bentham, we are all controlled by two Masterss, hurting and pleasance. The theory of Utilitarianism says that we should move in a manner that will maximise public-service corporation, which is truly stating that we should move in a manner that will maximise pleasance and minimise hurting. An action is right if it brings goodness and prevents pain ; it is incorrect if it does the antonym. When Utilitarianism takes into history the value of pleasance and hurting, it is non the pleasance or hurting of merely one individual that is taken into consideration. Utilitarianism is concerned with the involvement of the community and no one individual s felicity is counted as more of import than anyone else s. This is different from the theory of Hedonism, which underlies Utilitarianism. Hedonism says, things are good or bad merely on history of the manner they make us experience.

To find how much felicity an action will convey, one must cipher how much pleasance it will convey and deduct how much hurting it may do. When this computation is done, it is measured by four fortunes: strength, continuance, certainty/uncertainty, and closeness/remoteness. The computation must besides take into history the hurting and pleasance it will do everyone whom this action will impact. In Utilitarianism no 1 is granted particular consideration, everyone s hurting and pleasance is weighted every bit. The balance of pleasance and hurting for each individual affected is added together and the action that will ensue in the greatest sum of pleasance for each individual involved is the right action. This is to state that if Mr. Smith, Mrs. James, and Mr. Harris are all seeking to make up one’s mind which eating house to travel to on their tiffin hr, they should see the sum of pleasance one eating house will do Smith and deduct the sum of hurting it will do him. This should be done for all three of them for each eating house they are sing. When they are done, the eating house with the greatest sum of pleasance for Smith, James, and Harris will be the right pick for tiffin. Not merely does this computation happen a eating house for tiffin, it besides consequences in the greatest felicity for all the people involved.

A theory that strives to accomplish the most happiness for the most people sounds like a great philosophy for people to establish their determinations on, but Utilitarianism has many expostulations. The first expostulation is to Hedonism, which says things are good or bad based merely on how they make us experience. In some instances, this seems to acquire things rearward. There are many times when we are unhappy because something bad has happened. This contradicts the thought of Hedonism, which says something is merely bad if it makes us unhappy. If you think a coworker is your friend, but in actuality, she talks about you behind your back, this is a bad thing. Harmonizing to Hedonism, it is non bad since you don Ts know she talks about you and therefore it causes you no hurting. Thingss such as friendly relationship and love are considered valuable, non merely every bit means to happiness, but as ends themselves. We think friendship is valuable independently, non because it makes us happy. We do non look for friends because we are sad and cognize that people who have friends are happy ; we are happy because we have friends and see their friendly relationship valuable. If things truly were good or bad based merely on how they made us experience, so there would be nil incorrect with an employee kiping with the foreman to acquire a publicity. The act would convey pleasance to the employee both by the existent act and the publicity, so this would be allowed by Hedonism ; in fact, this would be the right action to take.

Another expostulation is that Utilitarianism does non account for justness or rights. Utilitarianism states that felicity is the lone thing that measures whether an action is good, so any action that consequences in greater felicity than sadness is right. Some actions that may look unjust could perchance hold good effects, which would do them allowable, even necessary by Utilitarianism. For illustration, if a adult male is defalcating money from the multi-million dollar company he works for, so he donates the money to assorted charities, Utilitarianism says that it is right for him to be stealing because he is increasing the pleasance of all the people the charities are assisting, which is greater than the hurting caused to this booming company. In this manner, Utilitarianism fails to take justness into history. It gives this adult male the feeling that the right action is to interrupt the jurisprudence. In the same manner Utilitarianism does non account for justness, it besides does non account for human rights. We value rights such as the right to liberate address, freedom of faith, the right of privateness and many other rights. Utilitarianism does non see these rights, merely the effect that will ensue in the greatest public-service corporation. For illustration, if a adult female fills out a occupation application stating that her ground for go forthing her last occupation was over a sexual torment issue and explains this adversity to her new foreman, this is done in assurance. If her new foreman so goes about and tells each individual this adversity about their new coworker because the foreman knows everyone will happen it humourous, this adult female is now the gag of the office, and her right to privateness has been violated. Since so many people got enjoyment out of express joying at her, the sum of felicity generated by her foreman stating her secret is greater than the sum of unhappiness she is caused, particularly if they all joke about her behind her dorsum. Since Utilitarianism does non account for rights, the fact that her right to privateness has been violated does non count. Her foreman took the right action when he decided to distribute her secret around.

Since Utilitarianism merely looks at the effects or consequences of an action, it is a wholly advanced theory. It fails to see anything valuable that may look rearward. Thingss such as promises that were made in the yesteryear are non deemed valuable under Utilitarianism. For illustration, you as the director of a big company promised Mr. Thomas he could hold his girl s birthday off to observe with her. A few yearss before her birthday you realize that there is a immense deadline that will non be met if Thomas does non work that twenty-four hours. Many other employees will hold to work overtime to larn what Thomas does and make it for him so he can hold the twenty-four hours off. Thousands of your clients will be disappointed if you do non run into the deadline. Since so much hurting will be caused by Thomas holding the twenty-four hours off, harmonizing to Utilitarianism the right thing for you to make is to do Thomas work and lose his girl s birthday. The fact that you promised him he could hold the twenty-four hours off doesn T affair because it is a fact about the yesteryear. Besides, since Utilitarianism merely looks at effects, things like motivation do non count. A adult male who has been a loyal employee for 28 old ages by chance deletes a immense quarterly study from his computing machine. Another adult male is angry with the company so he takes his quarterly study and intentionally runs it through

the shredder. Harmonizing to Utilitarianism, since both actions have the same bad result, both work forces have committed the same offense. It does non count that one did it intentionally and the other had no purposes of aching the company, but in our lives, motivations do affair.

Possibly the best illustration of how Utilitarianism fails to convey about the right concern determination is the trouble to accurately judge felicity vs. sadness. The pattern of this theory is to foretell how much felicity will be caused by an action, but how can anyone be certain? You can ne’er be certain about the hereafter. An action that you think will do much felicity could stop up being a catastrophe and doing much sadness. Plus, since Utilitarianism takes into consideration the public-service corporation that an action will do every individual involved, it becomes even more complicated. While you may be able to find that an action will convey you happiness or unhappiness, it might be difficult to set an existent value on the sum of pleasance or hurting something will do you. It can be done though. It is much harder nevertheless to besides use these steps to person else. Just because something causes you much hurting, that does non intend it will do person else any hurting at all. How are you traveling to mensurate this? The lone true manner would be to experience the other individual s pleasance or hurting, which is impossible, so you can see how hard it is to delegate these values to pleasure and trouble to cipher public-service corporation. One of the best illustrations of how this computation can be hard is the cost-benefit analysis of the Ford Pinto. In the 1970 s, Ford made a little compact auto called the Pinto. In an effort to vie with Volkswagen and other little autos hitting the market at the same clip, Ford rushed the Pinto into production in much less clip than normal. Toward the terminal of this production procedure, Ford engineers discovered that in some rear-end hits, the Pinto s gas armored combat vehicle, which was placed right behind the rear bumper, would tear. Since they were in such a haste to acquire the auto on the market, Ford functionaries decided to let go of the auto anyhow. Ford did have the patent to a much safer gas armored combat vehicle, which they offered on some of their other autos, but they wanted to acquire the Pinto into the market every bit shortly as possible, so they did non desire anything decelerating down their production. Over the eight old ages that followed, it was estimated that 500 burn deceases occurred to people driving Ford Pintos who would non hold been earnestly injured if the auto had non burst into fires as a consequence of the gas armored combat vehicle tearing. This figure could even be every bit high as 900, harmonizing to the estimations. Alternatively of remembering and altering the design of the Pinto, Ford merely kept paying out colonies to the households involved in these clangs. Ford paid out 1000000s of dollars to settle these suits out of tribunal. So many Pintos were involved in fiery clangs that it became an embarrassment to Ford. Nonetheless, the sub-compact auto was a large marketer for Ford, so they continued to do it. You may be inquiring yourself why, after eight old ages, Ford had non taken the stairss necessary to halt their auto from detonating in rear-end hits. The reply is because Ford did a cost-benefit analysis, which assigned values to different things, including human life. Their analysis showed it was non profitable for Ford to do the alterations. This is the manner Ford came to the decision that it would non be profitable to repair the Pinto: First they figured that it would be them about $ 11 to repair each auto. They had about 12.5 million autos so the entire cost to repair all autos would be $ 137 million. Then Ford estimated that there would be 180 burn deceases, 180 serious burn hurts and 2,100 burned vehicles per twelvemonth. The following measure was to find how much they would hold to pay in out of tribunal colonies for each of these accidents. They estimated the cost of each vehicle to be $ 700, and the sum per hurt to be $ 67,000. The sum they assigned to a human life was about $ 200,000. This sum was derived by adding the cost of the funeral, future productiveness losingss, medical costs, victim s hurting and agony, and a few other things. The sum assigned to the victim s hurting and agony was $ 10,000. When calculating out the cost Ford would hold to pay in colonies, it came to ( 180 x $ 200,000 ) + ( 180 x $ 67,000 ) + ( 2,100 x $ 700 ) . The entire sum was $ 49.5 million. Since this cost was less than the $ 137 million it would be to repair each auto, Ford decided it was non profitable to repair the Pinto s gas armored combat vehicle. Many people object to the value Ford placed on a human life. The sum they came up with may hold been a just monetary value to pay a household who already lost person due to one of these tragic accidents, but can you truly put a monetary value on salvaging a life? The manner Ford did their cost-benefit analysis is a manner of using Utilitarianism to concern determinations. In this instance, even though the computations showed Ford the right action to take, it was non the best moral action. This is a great illustration of how Utilitarianism fails to ensue in the right moral action for concern determinations.

After reading all the expostulations to Utilitarianism, it may be difficult to believe that people really pattern this theory. There are nevertheless some defences utilitarians offer for their theory. Many utilitarians realized that their moral theory was neglecting in such countries as continuing human rights and justness. To rectify this, they came up with a revised version of Utilitarianism. Their revised version is called Rule-Utilitarianism. The job with authoritative Utilitarianism ( Act-Utilitarianism ) is that each single action is considered right or incorrect based on the Principle of Utility. As we saw from the illustrations above, utilizing the Principle of Utility for each single action sometimes consequences in a determination that common sense Tells us is incorrect. Rule-Utilitarianism holes this by finding a set of regulations based on the rule that will be able to judge a group of actions at a clip. Alternatively, regulations will be established by mention to the rule, and single Acts of the Apostless will so be judged right or incorrect by mention to the regulations. This manner regulations such as Do non lie, are ever carried out and the Rule-Utilitarianism determination will frequently be the same determination that common sense would state us to do. In this manner Rule-Utilitarianism can non be convicted of go againsting our moral common sense, or of conflicting with ordinary thoughts of justness, personal rights, and the remainder. Other utilitarians have realized that many Utilitarianism actions are at odds with our common sense actions and have come up with the decision, So What? J.J.C. Smart published An Outline of a System of Utilitarian Ethics which outlines this response. He admits that Utilitarianism will non ever ensue in the same action that common sense would, but does non see anything incorrect with this. His footing for this is that our common sense is non perfect. Our common sense can transport biass that we have gained from our household, church, or general civilization. There truly is nil that makes our common sense dependable, so why do we presume common sense actions are more dependable than Utilitarianism actions? Utilitarianism is non incorrect merely because it conflicts with our feelings. Smart even goes every bit far as to state that possibly it is our common sense feelings that are incorrect and non Utilitarianism. In the illustration of the adult male defalcating money and giving it to the hapless, our common sense tells us that it is incorrect to steal ; Utilitarianism says that it is non. When all those people would profit from the charity, why is it our common sense reaction that stealing is incorrect, should be considered right? Smith does non believe it is and he does non see the demand for Utilitarianism to be revised at all.

Although utilitarians have come up with good defences for their theory, I still believe that it is non the practical moral theory for people in the concern universe to follow. There are excessively many things that will be ignored if a concern chose to follow Utilitarianism. Any company should take into consideration the rights of their clients and employees ; Utilitarianism does non ever do this. There are merely excessively many instances in which Utilitarianism will ensue in the wrong moral action for a concern to take. This is why in the practical concern universe, Utilitarianism fails to ever ensue in the right moral action.