Utilitarian Ethical Perspective: What Makes An Individual In Living A Good Life

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What is a good life? How does one live a good life? And what makes a life worth living? All these questions have been the topic of debate for many centuries and influence the way in which many of us live. During this keynote address, I will be looking at how applying a Utilitarian Ethical framework assists an individual in living a good life. This will be achieved through an examination of Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarian ethical theory, the bombing of Hiroshima and of how the theory links to Christian perspectives.

Utilitarianism is a teleological ethical theory that focuses on the consequences of an act, not the act itself. Theorist, Jeremy Bentham believed that “morally appropriate behaviour will not harm others, but instead increase happiness
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Many critics believe that utilitarianism is the search for the most happiness in an individual’s own life, however it is clearly stated in Bentham’s principles of morals and legislation (1781) that, “it will be good or bad according to the effects it has in augmenting or diminishing the happiness of the community and on the happiness of others.” This selflessness is reflected in the bible through the Philippians chapter 2, verse 4 where it states, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” This emulates the ethos of utilitarianism, as it urges the individual to put their own needs/ wants, even their own happiness aside in order to create the most happiness for another person. The self-sacrificing nature of a true utilitarian is a parallelism to Christian’s main belief of service and giving of yourself for others. “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased,” (Hebrews 13:16). This passage directly relates to the utilitarian and Christian belief that in order to live a good and ethical life one must strive to provide the most happiness for

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