Utilitarianism and Its Shortcomings

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Utilitarianism is the argument that all actions must be made for the greatest happiness for the greater number of people (Bentham, 42). However, utilitarianism cannot always be the basis of one’s decisions due to the fact that people need to look out for their own pain and pleasure before consulting others’ wellbeing. I will first explain the arguments of the utilitarianism ideal. Then I willl explain why this argument is unconvincing. Ultimately, I will then prove why people consider their own happiness before considering others. Thus showing the utilitarianism view is implausible due to the need for people to consider their own happiness when making decisions or else they themselves will be experiencing the most pain and unhappiness.

In order to explain the flaws within utilitarianism, I will first explain what the utilitarian’s arguments are. Jeremy Bentham is known as the man who fathered utilitarianism and he states that utilitarianism is “The greatest good for the greatest number” (42). Bentham believes every person’s goal in life is to strive for pleasure and refrain from pain (42). This guides our lives and is the basis of which all decisions should be made, to increase pleasure and decrease pain (42). The principle of utility is meant to approve or disapprove of every action a person makes, determining if the action is morally correct or incorrect (43). This pain and pleasure, which drives human life, can also be measured within categories such as intensity, duration, certainty or uncertainty and propinquity or remoteness (43). Bentham states the consequences of choosing to do an act of pleasure or pain is the only thing that matters, whether you intended for pleasure or pain does not get taken into consideration (43). P...

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...e actions we do not do, even though it is impossible to think of everything in the world we can fix (Freier, 03/03). Utilitarianism is an ideal theory of a perfect world that has very little problems and uncertainties, however it is not a realistic goal for people to achieve great happiness as individuals.

Works Cited

Bentham, Jeremy. "Classical Hedonism." Introduction to the Principle of Morals and Legislation. 1789. 42-44.

Freier, Blake. “Utilitarianism” Values and Society Tutorial. Wilfrid Laurier University. Waterloo. 3 Mar. 2014.

Mill, John Stuart. "Utilitarianism." Cahn, Steven M. Exploring Ethics: An Introductory Anthology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 114-125.

Pojman, Louis P. "Strengths and Weaknesses of Utilitarianism." Cahn, Steven M. Exploring Ethics: An Introductory Anthology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 126-134.