Strengths And Weaknesses Of Utilitarianism

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There are numerous views and opinions regarding the field of philosophy, in particularly the different ethical theories. I am going to explain the main idea as well as discuss the differences between the utilitarianism, the deontological, and the virtue-ethical theories of morality by presenting what I find to be the strengths and weaknesses of each theory. Utilitarianism The first general ethical theory I am going to discuss is the utilitarian theory. Simply put, utilitarianism is doing what will benefit the most people and cause the most happiness or pleasure. For example, assume you won the lottery and have one million dollars in cash. The utilitarian would argue that you should give all of that money away to people who may need it…show more content…
Bentham distinguished two main features of utilitarianism- the consequentialist principle and the utility principle. The consequentialist principle argues that you can determine what is right or wrong by what results follow your action; if what follows your action is good then you did what is right whereas if what follows is bad, you did the wrong thing. The utility principle says that what is right or wrong can simply be determined from the feeling produced from the act. If your actions bring you happiness or joy for example, you did what is right. Bentham also developed the hedonic calculus, a method for measuring pleasure and pain. His formula, which sums up the seven aspects of a pleasurable or painful experience, is a way to quantitatively measure an experience. The biggest strength of Bentham’s theory, in my opinion, is the simplicity of it. Simply do what brings the most joy and pleasure to the most people. The problem I have with this theory is how does one really quantify or measure pleasure or even pain for that matter? For one, people do not always agree on what is pleasurable and what is painful. For example I may find lying out in the hot sun painful, but many people would argue that they find sun bathing relaxing and peaceful. Further, even if everyone did agree (which they don’t) on what is pleasurable or painful I may think that something is…show more content…
It would argue that the results or consequences of your actions have no bearing on the rightness or wrongness of the act but rather the action itself is determined to be right or wrong under a set of rules. For example let’s assume you promised your mother you would buy her a house one day. You finally have the money to make good on you promise and buy your mom a new house but you start to debate if it is the right thing to do since your mother already lives very comfortably, maybe you should give the money to people who need it more. The utilitarian would say give the money away since it bring more people happiness or utility whereas the deontologist would argue that you should keep your promise and buy your mother the house. They would argue that breaking your promise is wrongful even if it may bring more people happiness in the

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