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utilitarianism

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i figure i may as well try out this blog thing. i don't really have anything to say, so if you're still with me, feel free to read my shitty attempt at writing a short essay on utilitarian ethics

To explain Utilitarianism frankly, it is the idea that moral value of an action is determined solely by its usefulness is maximizing utility, or minimising negative utility; utility being the grounds for pleasure or preference. It is considered a form of consequentialism, as it does in a way indicate the belief that an ethical decision should always be made for the benefit of a greater number, rather than for the one.
In terms of consequences, Utilitarianism would be considered a moral belief that depends greatly on consequences, as said before it is essentially a consequential argument. To give further support to this, Jeremy Bentham’s Utilitarianism was intended to be an absolutist view, meaning that for Utilitarian beliefs to be put into an ethical dilemma, the circumstances would be very important on making a decision, thus also making the consequences important as well.
Happiness also plays a big part in Utilitarianism, as Jeremy Bentham described the idea himself as “the greatest happiness principle”, meaning that he believed that an ethical decision should always lead to the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. For example, if a man was given the decision to have 10 million pounds to himself or split the money so that he and 9 other people all got 1 million each, Utilitarianism (or the greatest happiness principle) would suggest that he chose the latter option of splitting the money, as it would lead to greater happiness amongst a greater number. Utilitarianism also takes a lot of it’s criteria from hedonism, as “the greatest happiness principle” relies on something called ‘the hedonic calculus’; which Bentham thought all people must use before deciding the utility of the act of dilemma in question. The hedonic calculus works through different areas of pleasure and happiness (its extent, its duration, its intensity etc) to determine the best outcome from a Utilitarian view.
The main thing that separates Utilitarianism from general consequentialism is really that it follows the “what you want, not what you need” principle. For example, if a group of starving people were offered either water or chocolate, but not both, the chocolate would result in greater pleasure, however the water would keep them alive longer and is a necessity. By Utilitarian rules, the people would choose the chocolate and die. Also, due to the association with hedonism, it could also be argued that Utilitarianism encourages drug use, as some drugs are commonly seen as a source of pleasure. Although Utilitarianism seems to have a connection with relativism, I don’t think that it can be a particularly useful theory, as it doesn’t particularly follow any kind of civilised structure, just pleasure and happiness.
Despite my opinion of Utilitarianism, it does reflect the kind of ethical world we live in today. Even though there may be millions and millions of people in western countries like the UK and USA that live somewhat pleasurable and happy lives, there are still hundreds of thousands that are dying of starvation in other more deprived countries. This is where Utilitarianism can be questioned, as it does, to an extent, kind of reject the concept of charity.
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