John Stuart Mill Utilitarianism Essay

1307 Words6 Pages
How does one respond when they witness an act of deliberate cheating? In this essay, I will demonstrate the potential of John Stuart Mill’s theory of Utilitarianism to help evaluate the morality of either confronting the cheater, or choosing to let the cheating go uncontested. I will first focus in on a particular case of cheating I encountered, before going on to argue that the difficulty of measuring utility precisely, prevents Mill’s theory from offering us general moral direction for all similar situations. The event in question occurred at a club golf tournament this past fall. On the second hole of the day, one of the members of the other team, whom I am playing with, missed a short putt. Frustrated, he picked up his ball instead…show more content…
Significantly, Mill’s act utilitarianism is concerned with an action’s consequence, not intentions, and differs from Jeremy Bentham’s version of the theory, in that it is focused on making the total amount of happiness largest, instead of maximizing the number of people who are happy. For evaluating morality, Mill was a proponent of using a scientific method that consisted of asking a question and making observations, before evaluating the results to form a testable hypothesis. Drawing upon Mill’s method, the question that must be asked is does utilitarianism provide sound moral guidance regarding my decision to confront cheating in golf, and can the next step, that is, rule utilitarianism, be used to create general guidelines for responding to cheating? In order to answer these inquires, our observations must begin by identifying the stakeholders in the golfing incident and accessing how much happiness they received from my decision. Next, we must assess how this level of happiness would have changed had I decided to let the cheating go and not say anything.
Obviously, the two primary stakeholders would be myself, and my opponent. However, the two other members of our playing group should also be considered, as well as the remainder of the tournament field. In terms of how my choice resulted in increased happiness, there are several considerations. First, I, myself,
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