Does Utilitarianism Lead to Extreme Self Sacrifice?

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The principal of utility is to maximize the happiness in ones self by using benefits misusing the harms. It acts as to produce advantage, pleasure, good or happiness and the greatest net balance of benefits over harms for all affected impartially. In Utilitarianism, J.S. Mill was trying to show that actions and institutions should increase the overall amount of happiness in the world, and stressed the importance of utilitarianism as the first principle in ethics. Happiness should be judged, not only by pleasure, but by pain as well, Mill believes that a person should always seek to gain pleasure and reject pain. According to Smart, the act-utilitarian is to regard rules as mere rules of thumb, and will use them only as rough guides. “Normally he will act in accordance with them when he has no time for considering probable consequences or when the advantages of such a consideration of consequences are likely to be outweighed by the disadvantage of the waste of time involved.” (Smart, 42) In theory, one could do a harms/benefits analysis to discover the right course of action in every case. But for practical reason, act-utilitarianism uses rules as guidelines. Only when one has good reason to believe one is in a situation. Smart draws the distinction between the ‘right’ and the ‘rational’ act by using the term rational as a term of commendation for that action which is, on the evidence available to the agent to produce the best results. He uses the word right as a term of commendation for the action which does in fact produce the best results. So Smart says that what is rational is to try to perform the right action, to try to produce the best results. A good rule of act-utilitarianism is one that are designed to maximize... ... middle of paper ... ...e’s choice as being right if he chooses not to take on the job. Not only does this helps his personal integrity but it can also stop some kind of breakthrough weapons from being created. One of the objections Harwood discusses is that utilitarianism is overly demanding. It appears that utilitarianism appears to demand an extreme amount of self sacrifice from everyone. He suggests that “must we really sell all of our nonessential material goods and give the money to worthy charitable causes?” (Harwood, 180) He also states that utilitarianism scarcely requires us to attempt the impossible, since that would be futile and would fail to maximize expected satisfaction. Every moral principle seems to require extreme actions under some scenario or other. So the objection that utilitarianism sometimes leads to extreme self sacrifice or extreme acts is inconclusive.

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