Jeremy Bentham 2. Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that determines right from wrong by focusing on outcomes. Epicurus 4. Utilitarians argued, for instance, in favour of rights for women and for people of various races. Utilitarianism also differs from ethical theories that make … Can the dignity of one individual be violated in order to save many others? Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that says that the right thing to do in any situation is whatever will “do the most good” (that is, whatever will produce the best outcomes) taking into consideration the interests of all concerned parties. We can imagine instances where a certain course of action would produce great benefits for society, but they would be clearly unjust. He believed that the most promising way of reaching such an agreement was to choose that policy that would bring about the greatest net benefits to society once the harms had been taken into account. Many of us use this type of moral reasoning frequently in our daily decisions. Utilitarianism and other consequentialist theories are in opposition to egoism, the view that each person should pursue his or her own self-interest, even at the expense of others, and to any ethical theory that regards some actions (or types of action) as right or wrong independently of their consequences (see deontological ethics). First, the utilitarian calculation requires that we assign values to the benefits and harms resulting from our actions and compare them with the benefits and harms that might result from other actions. A hard-core utilitarian would say that outcomes are all that matter. I think that the most powerful objection to Utilitarianism is the idea that as a theory it doesn’t look at individual people as being unique or take into account personal feelings, for example, that our love for a certain thing might prevent us from acting … Problems with Utilitarianism One of the most prevalent moral systems adopted by many in higher learning is that of utilitarianism. In business contexts, utilitarianism implies an obligation for businesses to do what they can to act in a way that maximizes happiness and minimizes suffering. During the apartheid regime in South Africa in the last century, South African whites, for example, sometimes claimed that all South Africans—including blacks—were better off under white rule. For example, Bentham defined benefits and harms in terms of pleasure and pain. The latter part is important: utilitarians believe that everyone’s interests count. Despite such differences among utilitarians, however, most hold to the general principle that morality must depend on balancing the beneficial and harmful consequences of our conduct. Some utilitarians maintain that in making an ethical decision, we must ask ourselves: "What effect will my doing this act in this situation have on the general balance of good over evil?" We welcome your comments, suggestions, or alternative points of view. On the other hand, ‘rule utilitarians’ posit that the best consequences should be considered in the process of making ethical decisions (Bentham, 2012). How do we go about assigning a value to life or to art? Henry Sidgwick (/ ˈ s ɪ dʒ w ɪ k /; 31 May 1838 – 28 August 1900) was an English utilitarian philosopher and economist. These whites claimed that in those African nations that have traded a whites-only government for a black or mixed one, social conditions have rapidly deteriorated. So, utilitarianism provides a basis for criticizing business behaviours that cause harm to anyone at all. Facing this dilemma recently — who gets a ventilator or a hospital bed — Italian doctors sought ethical counsel and were told to consider an approach that draws on utilitarian principles. The two ethical theories that are the most prominent in society are Utilitarianism and Deontology. If such a prediction were true—and the end of apartheid has shown that the prediction was false—then the white government of South Africa would have been morally justified by utilitarianism, in spite of its injustice. It is the only moral … In other words, all actions are considered to be of instrumental value. Compared to some writings on abortion, it is very short. He was the Knightbridge Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Cambridge from 1883 until his death, and is best known in philosophy for his utilitarian treatise The Methods of Ethics. His motto, a familiar one now, was "the greatest good for the greatest number.". Peter Singer Utilitarianism bases its ethical laws on the result or consequences of a moral action. Utilitarianism. The philosophy of consequentialism is based on the belief that the moral and ethical value of one’s action should be judged by the consequence of such action. Over the years, the principle of utilitarianism has been expanded and refined so that today there are many variations of the principle. When asked to explain why we feel we have a moral duty to perform some action, we often point to the good that will come from the action or the harm it will prevent.