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Utilitarianism represents a standard ethical theory, which determines right and wrong based on the results of selecting one action or policy over others. The theory operates outside an individual’s own interest to consider the concerns of others. The theory suggests that morally right action generates the most good. Furthermore, comprehending the right action normally takes place through the results. Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill developed the theory.
They advise that people should maximize on the good and ensure that the highest quantity of it benefits the maximum number of people. The theory also promotes agent neutrality and objectivity. This works on the idea that everyone is an agent in promoting the maximization of the good. Therefore, one person cannot be concerned with the activities of their counterparts so long as they are also working for the maximization of the good.
The good aspect of the theory
The good thing about the utilitarianism theory relates to the notion that it is the simplest form of any applicable ethical system. The theory assists in easy decision making because people are guided by the consequences. Therefore, at individual level people can determine the morality of their actions through a simple strategy. People can calculate the goodness or the badness of their actions to determine the morality of their decisions.
Therefore, when the calculation results of the consequences presents more good than bad then the action or decision is taken as moral. The theory is also good in the sense that it is simple to apply in the daily decision making processes. People can evaluate their decisions to determine their goodness. For example, an individual considering spending money on entertainment can evaluate the decision for its goodness or badness. Therefore, when the negative consequences of spending money are higher, then the decision becomes immoral.
The bad aspect of the theory
The bad aspect of the theory also relates to the notion that it escalates the “end justifies the means” approach. The theory is more concerned with the goodness of the consequence. It is concerned with the consequence that maximizes the good. On the contrary, is not concerned about the means people use to achieve the good consequences.
Therefore, the theory can promote actions that present severe impacts in order to achieve good consequences. It is notable that the end can never justify the means. On the contrary, the means validate themselves. Therefore, the means used to implement actions that generate good consequences must be judged objectively using consistent standard of ethics.
How to improve the theory
The aspect of the theory that requires improvement entails its proposal that good consequences generates pleasure for people. People should promote the good. However, the good entails several things that cannot diminish into pleasure. There are diverse decisions on actions and policies that promote the good at an individual and society level. An evaluation of such decisions to determine their goodness or badness might indicate that they are moral.
However, not all the good can give pleasure. Other things have intrinsic values that might not lead to pleasure. Therefore, assuming that the good must also give pleasure might be misleading. Improving the aspect of pleasure connotation in the theory is crucial to ensuring that people can appreciate other components of decision outcomes that present the good but fails to give pleasure.