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The Main Risks of Utilitarianism Essay

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Updated: Mar 21st, 2022

Utilitarianism is the notion that the moral value of an action is determined by its helpfulness in producing pleasure or happiness as perceived among the public. It focuses on pleasure and pain and was developed by the philosopher Bentham Jeremy.

Utilitarianism is the thought that an ethical value of an act is determined exclusively by its efficacy in providing happiness or enjoyment as summed amid all conscious beings (Singer 90). It is, therefore, true to say that the ethical value of an act is indomitable by its result. Utilitarianism can be described as the supreme happiness principle. Utility, the best to be capitalized on, has been explained by several people as happiness or contentment, though the first choice utilitarian explains it as a fulfillment of preferences.

Thesis Statement: As much as Utilitarianism has its benefits, it also contains inherent risks.

In this theory of act utilitarianism, is well stated that, when one is faced with a decision to make, the first thing to consider is the outcome of the potential deeds and, from that decide to perform what is believed to generate the most happiness (Singer 89). However, the theory of rule utilitarianism commences by focusing on prospective rules of the deeds. From these two theories, it is wise to argue out that, if observances to the rule turn out more happiness or else, it is a rule that ethically must be subsequent at all times.

Nevertheless, rule utilitarianism is highly criticized for supporting common rules that somehow in some particular situations will clearly decline happiness if pursued. Not allowing to kill an individual may seem a good rule, but it can create self-defense in opposition to malicious attackers very difficult (Singer 45). Rule utilitarian attaches, on the other hand, that there exist common exclusion rules that consent to the breaching of other rules if only such rule breaching increases happiness, a good example being the one for self-defense.

However, considering rule utilitarianism there occur a difference between the strictness and absolutism of this meticulous division of utilitarianism (Singer 50). On the other hand, Weak rule utilitarianism posits that, though rules must be framed on earlier examples that are of benefit to the society, it is very possible, under particular situations, to act on what generates utmost happiness and breach that rule (Audi, 2007).

Rule utilitarianism must not be mistaken with heuristics through several acts utilitarian has the same opinion that it creates sense to come up with such rules of heuristics to be followed if they happen to be in a condition whose penalty is not easy, expensive, or time utilizing to calculate exactly. If the penalty can be well calculated fairly clearly and with not much doubt, however, the heuristic can be assumed (Hursthouse 67).

Most of these utilitarian theories deal with creating the highest amount of superior for the greatest group of persons. Negative utilitarianism demands us to support the least quantity of evil or harm or to avoid the highest amount of pain/suffering for the highest number of people (Hursthouse 78). Several philosophers argued that, this is the most efficient formula, since, they contend, the highest pains are more resulting than the highest goods. Karl popper referred also to an epistemological case where he suggested that – it adds to transparency in the ground of ethics if we invent our strain negatively that is if we demand the abolition of pain rather than the backup of happiness.

Works Cited

Hursthouse, Ralph. On virtue ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Singer, Peter. The expanding circle: Ethics and sociobiology, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999.

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