Essay on Utilitarianism

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Utilitarianism is a moral theory that has long been the subject of philosophical debate. This theory, when practiced, appears to set a very basic guideline to follow when one is faced with a moral dilemma. Fundamental Utilitarianism states that when a moral dilemma arises, one should take action that causes favorable results or reduces less favorable results. If these less favorable results, or pain, occur from this action, it can be justified if it is produced to prevent more pain or produce happiness. Stating the Utilitarian view can summarize these basic principles: "the greatest good for the greatest number". Utilitarians are to believe that if they follow this philosophy, that no matter what action they take, it
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Utilitarianism would say that the more "basic or lower-order projects" that comprise of these desires such as family and friends, are unimportant and detract from "higher-order project" of maximizing desirable outcomes (Singer: 341). The result of this reasoning would mean that all "lower-order projects" would have only the purpose of satisfying "higher-order projects." This would make one's only goal in life to make other people happy which is not the only cause for one's own happiness. An individual's happiness is also related to a varying range of projects or pursuits of interest of "lower-order projects." Integrity is a very important issue that is often overlooked by Utilitarians. This is often the case because integrity is closely related to "lower-order projects." If an individual did not have any integrity, he/she would a unfulfilling and boring life. Williams says that "happiness, rather, requires being involved in, or at least content with, something else (Singer: 342)." These "lower-order projects" are the defining characteristics of an individuals' existence and allow one to achieve personal happiness.
"If such commitments are worth while, then pursuing the projects that flow from them, and realizing some of those projects, will make the person for whom they are worth while, happy (Singer: 342)."

The examples that Williams' uses, shows us how two characters are faced with a dilemma
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