Effectiveness of Utilitarianism as a Modern Moral Theory

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For men, there are two avenues to reason. Morality: the appeal to human emotions and a sense of intrinsic good, and logic: the appeal to human understanding of the world. While a number of moral theories exist, none of them is more well documented that Utilitarianism, which focuses on the maximization of total utility. I will discuss the theory initially, and then identify the major problems associated with it. I will conclude with a rationale as to how effective Utilitarianism is as a modern moral theory.

Utilitarianism is quite a broad theory, with different constructs. However, the underlying agenda is the same: actions should be aimed such that the greatest good occurs for the greatest number. Theorist Jeremy Bentham can be attributed with the inception of the theory, while later developments were headed by J.S Mills. Utilitarianism takes a quantitative approach to life, and tells us that every action should seek to maximize happiness. John Stuart Mill in his book Utilitarianism, states, "In the golden rule of Jesus of Nazareth, we recite the comprehensive spirit of the ethics of utility. To behave as do by others, and to love one's neighbour as oneself, establish the basic rightness of utilitarian morality." The value of an action is only judged by its consequences. In many ways, Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism. Bentham describes Utilitarianism in its simplest form, “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and
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