Utilitarianism As A Solid Moral Theory

Decent Essays
Utilitarianism is defined by Jeremy Bentham using seven different categories to evaluate the level of pleasure or pain that an action causes, both to an individual and a group as a whole (Bentham, 1907). Using these categories, we can determine if an act should be done or not and the moral value it holds. Overall, Utilitarianism is the idea that acts should be done for the greatest good for the most people. Utilitarianism as a theory has roots all the way back to the ancient Epicureans. Its modern articulation to the late 18th century, with major development to it in the 19th century by several philosophers. However, I am going to argue that Utilitarianism fails as a solid moral theory because when considering the greater good, it fails to recognize the importance of individual lives.
Utilitarianism also often leads to an individual doing something against his own beliefs with a focus on the impact to the greater community. Imagine if a man is given a situation where he can either save the life of his innocent wife or the life of five innocent strangers. Who does he choose?
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When King states this, he is suggesting that people think about each other on a one to one basis, rather than as a group at large. This means that we should focus on our individual interactions with people who are close to us, and not spend too much time thinking about how our actions affect the whole of society. Bernard Williams also said in his article discussing utilitarianism “Utilitarianism alienates one from one’s moral feelings” (Pojman, p.224). After all, for a society to function properly, the individuals in the society must be happy. Someone may live their life with a goal to provide utility to the most amount of people, but if everyone does this do we ever succeed in living happy lives? I certainly do not think
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