I examine the claim that Utilitarianism treats actions as just in cases where common sense holds that they are unjust. For this purpose, I described the guiding lines of the doctrine as John Stuart Mill defined them and presented the objection against it. I show that Utilitarians might refute the objection by proving that common sense morality itself allows the increase of evil. Utilitarianism is a moral doctrine that sees ‘utility’ in benefit, which is described as ‘pleasure’. It is based upon “the greater happiness” principle, according to which the best action is the one that maximizes happiness.
Morality as a whole tries to create a distinction between right and wrong, good and bad. Making decisions should arguably always be aimed towards good. Under the philosophical doctrine of Utilitarianism, philosophers like Bentham and Mill recognize that human kind should make their lives useful and good through bringing about happiness or pleasure. The idea of the “Greatest Happiness Principle was introduced by Bentham, who was a Utilitarian predecessor to Mill. According to Mill, human lives should abide by the “Greatest Happiness Principle.” This principle states that actions are good as they tend to promote happiness; and bad as they promote the reverse of happiness, therefore humans should make a conscious choice of action that will lead
Mills responds to this objection by explaining how secondary moral reasoning and the fundamental principle of morality are taken into account when deciding what promotes the most overall happiness. After explaining his argument, I believe Mill succeeds in responding to the objection, he explains why it shouldn’t be a problem when weighing the best possible outcome by using the secondary moral rule as the first principle. According to Mill, there are several elements to the principle of utility. First, it allows people to choose the action that promotes the most happiness. As stated, Mill believes that an action is right if it promotes happiness and an action is wrong if it promotes pain.
Mill defines utilitarianism as a theory based on the principle that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” In his words he defines happiness as a state of pleasure without pain. Mill rebuttals that the pain caused to one can differ in quality and quantity, and that pleasures aren’t always the same, meaning one’s higher pleasure might be someone’s lower pleasure. Meaning he makes it clear that often times ones goals and ends results conclude to someone’s happiness. Mill also states the Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism. An action could be morally wrong or morally right, depending on what action brings out the best outcome out of the... ... middle of paper ... ...s theory, often called hedonism.
In this essay I will argue that ethics of happiness are a set of acceptable principles that guide the way individuals should act in a given situation. Utilitarian Ethics is morally right acts that bring the most happiness to individuals. For instance, utilitarian ethics main focus is happiness and what decision will produce the maximum amount of happiness for everyone involved. Kant would say that the actions of somebody who acts justly because of the desire of happiness or pleasure have no moral worth. In fact, even if that person acts justly because of the desire for happiness of others, Kant would say that a person’s actions have no moral worth.
Anything else that has value is valuable merely as a means to securing pleasure for oneself. Epicurus associated this theory to a refined and individual view of the nature of pleasure, which lead him to recommend a virtuous, moderately frugal life as the best means to securing pleasure. His ethical theories find a foundation in the Aristotelian commonplace that the highest good is what is valued for its own sake, and not for the sake of anything else. Epicurus also agreed with Aristotle that happiness is the highest good. However, he disagreed with Aristotle by identifying happiness with pleasure.
Deontology focuses on respecting the autonomy and humanity of others, basically preaching equal opportunity. Utilitarianism does not specify any means by which to obtain happiness—happiness is its only mandate. While happiness sounds like a great end goal, it is a rather impractical one and the lack of consideration of motivations and means of utility-increasing actions has some serious negative consequences. I prefer Deontology over Utilitarianism for its focus on individual’s rights, opportunity, and personal autonomy. Utilitarianism’s advocacy of happiness by any means is what concerns me about the theory.
The fundamental objective of Hedonistic Utilitarianism would be to maximize happiness while minimizing pain (Sober 416). Supported by philosophers Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, the theory of Utilitarianism has been criticized, reformed, and researched in order to view the different situations in which this theory may produce positive or negative outcomes. Although this moral theory, was established with positive intentions there have been ethical conflictions created by this theory. Such as the understanding that the hedonistic utilitarian moral theory maintains a very subjective motivation, destroys autonomy, and creates a false sense of self. One of those situational theories is the experience machine hypothesis.
When talking about pleasure there needs to be a distinction between the quality and the quantity. While having many different kinds of pleasures can be considered a good thing, one is more likely to favor quality over quantity. With this distinction in mind, one is more able to quantify their pleasures as higher or lesser pleasures by ascertaining the quality of them. This facilitates the ability to achieve the fundamental moral value that is happiness. In his book Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill offers a defining of utility as pleasure or the absence of pain in addition to the Utility Principle, where “Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (Mill 7).
Virtue presents humans with identification for morals, and for Aristotle, we choose to have “right” morals. Aristotle defines humans by nature to be dishonored when making a wrong decision. Thus, if one choses to act upon pleasure, like John Stuart Mill states, for happiness, one may choose the wrong means of doing so. Happiness is a choice made rationally among many pickings to reach this state of mind. Happiness should not be a way to “win” in the end but a way to develop a well-behaved, principled reputation.