Utilitarianism is a normative theory in the field of philosophy, which claims that a suitable course of action maximizes overall happiness (Stokes 18). Utilitarian theory is concerned about the consequences of an action. However, it is unclear whether the consequences are imagined or real.
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Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill are the two main supporters of the theory. Bentham argues that the greatest number of people should achieve happiness if utilitarianism is to be achieved in society. Under all circumstances, people should avoid evil and always strive to do the right thing in society. To Bentham, the act of doing right and avoiding evil is referred to as the fundamental axiom (Bentham 31).
According to Bentham, nature places individuals under the governance of either pain or happiness. Therefore, it is upon human beings to determine their destinies. The cost of happiness or pain is usually measured in terms of intensity, period, certainty, and solitude of an event or action. Apart from measuring the intensity of an act, it is also important to consider the number of people affected by an action or event.
Stuart Mill concurs with Bentham’s views that individuals have the freedom to select what is right for them. For Mill, an individual can decide to choose a pleasure that does not satisfy his needs fully. However, Mill notes that no individual can accept to lower his or her dignity to enjoy high pleasures (Mill 56). In particular, he suggests that no human being can accept to be put in the same category as beasts.
Since Tasha is in a position to help the local poor, she should not temper with the prices of goods. Utilitarianism suggests that an individual should always strive to do the right thing in the right way. If Tasha increases the prices of goods, few people will be able to acquire them.
Nonetheless, the locals cannot do without winter clothes because of the bad weather. According to Bentham, Tasha will be going against the cardinal rule, which he referred to as the fundamental axiom. Increasing the prices of winter clothes is an act that does not aim at bringing happiness to the majority.
Happiness is achieved when the needs of the majority in society are met. For the case of Tasha, her act of tripling the prices of products will simply bring individual happiness. This is not what utilitarianism promotes. To Stuart Mill, Tasha will have lowered her dignity to the level equivalent to that of a beast. In real sense, an individual should not allow his or her status to be lowered only to achieve high pleasures.
Moore notes that other aspects, such as love and knowledge, influence happiness (Moore 19). Therefore, Tasha should consider the problems facing the locals before increasing the prices of winter clothes. In the first place, people might have lost their resources during the catastrophe. This means that they might not be having enough money to acquire the basic products. However, they will have to look for little cash since their happiness depends on the acquisition of winter clothes.
Without the winter clothes, the locals would not make it in life. Since Tasha is a knowledgeable person, she should know that people are suffering. Her love for members of society should not vanish for the sake of making abnormal profits. Tasha will be perceived as somebody with the interest of the majority at heart if she charges people normal prices. Consequently, members of society will collectively achieve high pleasures.
Bentham, Jeremy. The Works of Jeremy Bentham: Published under the Superintendence of His Executor, John Bowring, Volume 1. New York: Adamant Media Corporation, 2001. Print.
Mill, Stuart. A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive (Classic Reprint). New York: Forgotten Books, 2011. Print.
Moore, George. Ethics. London: Williams and Norgate, 1912. Print.
Stokes, Eric. The English Utilitarian and India. London: Clarendon Press, 1963. Print.