Essay about Utilitarianism: Explanation And Study of Criticisms

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Utilitarianism: Explanation And Study of Criticisms

The dictionary definition of Utilitarianism is: 'The doctrine that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the guiding principal of conduct.' When making a moral decision, we should look at the outcome of an action. Whatever brings the greatest happiness to the most people is the morally 'right' decision. It is a consequentialist principal where the majority rules. It is also relative as each situation is looked at differently and will have a different outcome. Utilitarianism is known as the theory of utility. The meaning of utility is usefulness. Each action is judged by its usefulness in bringing about desired consequences.
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Act utilitarianism is concerned with individual acts, while rule utilitarianism is concerned with the rules we follow when we act. Act utilitarians think that we should do whatever act will bring about the most good and the least bad. Rule utilitarians think that we should follow rules that will bring about the greatest good and the least bad for everyone affected. Preference utilitarianism focuses on the inclination of the people involved.

The act utilitarian believes that we cannot establish general rules because people and situations are all different. Problems for act utilitarianism include the following:

We can't always know what is good for others. It takes too long to work out what to do. We cannot teach others how to act if there are no rules to follow.

The rule utilitarian believes that there are enough similarities among people and situations to justify setting up general rules to govern our actions. Problems for rule utilitarians include the following:

It's hard to be sure that the rules will bring about the best consequences for all affected

Its hard to avoid making exceptions to the rules

The best rule might just be to be an act utilitarian.

Preference utilitarianism is also not a totally secure theory because it is difficult to predict the inclinations of the party concerned.