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Utilitarianism Applications and Criticism


Decision-making in various situations depends on the paradigm a person uses to analyze the results of their actions and choices. Under these conditions, there are numerous theories that might be applicable to various situations to determine their nature and outcomes. For instance, consequentialism is a paradigm implying that the ethics of an action depends on the consequences promoted by it (Sinnott-Armstrong). In other words, decisions should be made regarding the results and effects they cause on others.

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It makes consequentialism close to utilitarianism, as both concepts revolve around similar ideas. The second one differentiates between good and wrong actions by emphasizing outcomes and their impact on other people or communities (Sinnott-Armstrong). In such a way, utilitarianism can be viewed as a form of consequentialism focusing on the results of any decision-making process and its ability to improve the situation.

Main body

Application of the utilitarian perspective can help to analyze various actions and consider their acceptability. As stated previously, the given theory revolves around the fact that to be ethical, an effort should lead to the betterment of a person or group’s state; otherwise, it cannot be considered a good one (Lazari-Radek and Singer 89). At the same time, a decision beneficial for one individual might cause damage to another one, which introduces a certain dilemma that should be resolved.

For this reason, from the utilitarian perspective, a morally right consequence should contribute to the cultivation of the most significant amount of good for the bigger part of people involved in the situation (Lazari-Radek and Singer 98). Disregarding this idea will result in the deterioration of outcomes and their unacceptability from the ethical perspective, meaning that such solutions should be avoided.

In such a way, utilitarianism can be viewed as one of the ethical theories that can improve decision-making processes and avoid causing harm to others. In real-life situations, the application of this framework implies the following actions. First, it is vital to consider how the planned activity will influence a person who directly depends on the solution. Second, it is critical to think about the effects the action will cause on a group or other individuals related to the situation.

This step is explained by the fact that utilitarianism focuses on promoting good for the biggest possible amount of people (Lazari-Radek and Singer 98 101). Finally, having analyzed all these factors, it is possible to make a final decision and remain confident in its acceptability from the ethical perspective. In such a way, in everyday life, utilitarianism demands a specific analysis of actions and their results.

Applying the discussed framework to the offered experiment, it is possible to state that helping a friend is not morally right. This assumption comes from the central ideas of utilitarian ethics. Although the friend might acquire some benefits, the decision to lie to their significant other will lead to undesired consequences. First, this person might suffer because of cheating and lies told to cover it. Second, a person from the club can also be disappointed as they might not know that the friend is in a relationship. Finally, in a long-term perspective, the friend’s affair might also cause harm to them and destroy relations. For this reason, it is not right to try to cover them and lie. The consequences of this action will not be morally acceptable and create the basis for the growing dissatisfaction of numerous people.

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Although utilitarianism seems a potent tool for making decisions and ensuring no harm is done to people, it still has some criticisms. For instance, one of the popular claims linked to this paradigm focuses on the necessity to remain detached when analyzing various decisions (Mill 114). In real interactions, it is almost impossible as people have emotional bonds with others, meaning that individuals with their preferences and specific relations always influence others’ solutions and their intentions. However, from the utilitarian perspective, it is impossible to think subjectively and disregard the needs of a friend or another close person, focusing on the greater good for others instead (Mill 115).

The necessity to remain cold, unsympathizing, and neutral is often criticized, as almost all real-life situations imply the strong influence of personal preferences and emotions. It becomes a serious problem for utilitarianism, as it limits the scope of its application and makes it difficult to follow.


Altogether, utilitarianism can be viewed as a form of consequentialism focusing on the results of actions and decisions. This paradigm emphasizes the need to analyze activities to ensure they lead to the improvement of others’ states and the emergence of additional benefits. Otherwise, the action cannot be considered a good one and should not be performed. Applying this framework, it is possible to analyze numerous situations, such as those mentioned in the experiment. It is unacceptable to lie to the friend’s significant other as it will make them suffer. However, the concept is criticized for the need to remain detached and neutral, which is always difficult in real-life situations. Most interactions are influenced by emotions and personal preferences, meaning that employing utilitarianism in everyday life might be complex.

Works Cited

Lazari-Radek, Katarzyna, and Peter Singer. Utilitarianism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Mill, John Stuart. Utilitarianism. Coventry House Publishing, 2017.

Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter. “Consequentialism.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2020. Web.

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