Criticisms Against Ethical Theories

8474 WordsJan 7, 201234 Pages
Criticisms leveled against Ethical Theories 1. Criticisms leveled against Consequentialism. Consequentialism is based on the consequences of actions. It is sometimes called a teleological theory, from the Greek word telos, meaning goal. According to consequentialism, actions are right or wrong depending on whether their consequences further the goal. The goal (or, "the good") can be something like the happiness of all people or the spreading of peace and safety. Anything which contributes to that goal is right and anything which does not is wrong. Actions are thought to have no moral value in themselves (no rightness or wrongness), but only get moral value from whether or not they lead to the goal. John Stuart Mill was a famous…show more content…
The argument from distaste is often expressed as a suggestion that utilitarianism doesn't provide enough support for individuals' rights. But what is a right, and what is its justification? If the justification of a right depends on its tendency to promote happiness and prevent suffering, then it is entirely redundant since this is the sole purpose of utility. And if rights aren't justified in these terms, how are they justified - what on earth are they actually good for? Of what use are they? It is generally found that the proponent of ethical rights has very unclear thinking as to what rights are and why they (should) exist - and it is therefore of unclear importance that utilitarianism does not support them. Doesn't utilitarianism imply that, if we found a drug which had the sole effect of producing happiness, we ought to mass produce and consume it? And, since happiness is just an emotion which can be chemically induced, isn't it a bit silly to make it the highest order objective? It is quite strange that many people will accept "the pursuit of happiness" as one of life's fundamental entitlements, yet should suddenly develop ascetic inclinations as soon as the quarry appears obtainable. It seems they don't have a problem with someone trying to achieve happiness, rather they are only concerned when that someone has a reasonable prospect of success in their attempts. Perhaps their fixation with unhappiness would be satisfied by personally abstaining from
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