Utilitarianism, By Jeremy Bentham And John Stewart Mill Essay

Utilitarianism, By Jeremy Bentham And John Stewart Mill Essay

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Utilitarianism is one of the most commonly used ethical theories from the time it was formulated by Jeremy Bentham and John Stewart Mill in the nineteenth century. In his work, Utilitarianism, Bentham “sought to dispel misconceptions that morality has nothing to do with usefulness or utility or that morality is opposed to pleasure” (MacKinnon, 2012, p. 53). To simplify the utilitarian principle, which is one of utility, one can surmise that morality is equated with the greatest amount of utility or good for the greatest number of people (MacKinnon, 2012). Also, with its orientation to the “end or goal of actions” (MacKinnon, 2012, p. 54), Utilitarianism thus, espouses the consequentialist principle, e.g., the evaluation of any human act lies not so much in the nature of the act or the drive behind the act but rather the result of the act (MacKinnon, 2012).
The utilitarian promotion of pleasure or happiness as the intrinsic good makes it akin to Hedonism or Epicureanism that holds “mental delight and peace were the goods to be sought in life (MacKinnon, 2012, p. 54). Thus, utilitarianism as “a pleasure or happiness theory” (MacKinnon, 2012, p. 54) promotes that the only goals that man ought to seek were happiness and pleasure (MacKinnon, 2012). On the other hand, one has to note, that utilitarianism is not egoism, for the fact that happiness and pleasure are to be experienced by the greatest number of people and not just by one person.
In spite of the universalistic claim of utilitarianism to “happiness or pleasure of all who are affected by an action or practice” (MacKinnon, 2012, p. 55), the utilitarian theory had gained numerous critics that challenged it as a workable mora...


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...ied and viewed differently by individuals. As Mill elucidated
Moreover, in most aspects of everyday life, a person will not be affecting large numbers of other people, and thus need not consider his or her actions in relation to the good of all, but only to the good of those involved. It is only the people who work in the public sphere and affect many other people who must think about public utility on a regular basis (Spark Notes, n.d.).
Given the above arguments, this writer is more inclined to corroborate that the promotion of the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest number of people is possible, if, and only if all the possible variables are taken into consideration in the calculation of the greatest amount of happiness, e.g., “its intensity, its duration, its fruitfulness, and the likelihood of any act to produce it” (MacKinnon, 2012, p. 55).

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