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Utilitarianism: Poverty Reduction Through Charity


Global moral issues may be hard to discuss because of their complex nature. These problems do not affect a single individual or a small group – they span across borders and nations. World hunger and poverty are one of these problems, as one can encounter them in many parts of the world. While discussing these issues, many people use various philosophical and ethical principles to back up their claims. The debate about reducing global poverty by taxing wealthy people is often based on the ideas of Utilitarianism. This paper aims to prove that levels of poverty can be reduced if wealthy individuals donate a part of their earnings, using the main principles of the utilitarian theory and Bentham’s Felicific Calculus.

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The utilitarian philosophy is based on a belief that the outcomes of the situation have greater significance than the means of achieving it. Therefore, while discussing morally controversial topics, people should concentrate on the result and choose actions that will be the most beneficial in reaching it. The actions themselves should not be held up to judgment, as their nature is not essential to utilitarianism followers. According to Piacquadio, utilitarianism can be justified as a viable method of resolving conflicts because it equated all people and a lack of bias for any particular group (1264).

World poverty remains one of the central contemporary issues of this world. Through the view of utilitarianism principles, poverty of nations can be solved by redistributing the funds of wealthy individuals to various organizations that provide food and shelter for people living in poverty. The funds that are not being actively used by persons with substantial incomes seem to be the best sources of money for this situation. First of all, these resources are not utilized in the market. Thus, the use of these funds will bring world poverty down. According to the concepts of utilitarianism, the outcome can and should be reached by any means necessary (Barrow 51). The result of this issue is represented by people, who are currently living in conditions unfit for healthy and profitable existence, receiving financial help. As a result, these people will be able to afford healthy food, better living conditions, and better jobs. Therefore, the lives of many individuals will become better.

Felicific Calculus

The felicific calculus accounts for several factors. First of all, the intensity of an outcome should be considered. The redistribution of wealth from a few individuals will help millions of people that suffer from poverty. Secondly, the duration of this effect is long, as wealthy people continuously earn large amounts of money. The principle of certainty is followed as well because many people will benefit from these funds. Propinquity explores the remoteness of the outcome. If individuals with excessive income donate money to the most efficient charities battling poverty, the result can be observed in a matter of weeks. The purity and fecundity of this decision are also evident. The presence of funds for people in poverty will not cause them to feel negative emotions. Finally, according to D’Souza and Adams, the value of spending money significantly overweighs donating people’s discomfort (9). Therefore, according to the central principles of felicific calculus, giving individuals will suffer few adverse consequences and people in poverty will get good results.


All in all, explaining the problem of world poverty through the concepts of utilitarianism rationalizes the idea of money redistribution. The means of a small number of individuals giving money to help thousands of people justify the outcome of lower levels of poverty.

Works Cited

Barrow, Robin. Utilitarianism: A Contemporary Statement. Routledge, 2015.

D’Souza, Jeevan F., and C. Kelly Adams. “On Measuring the Moral Value of Action.” Frontiers of Philosophy in China, vol. 11, no. 1, 2016, pp. 122-136.

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Piacquadio, Paolo Giovanni. “A Fairness Justification of Utilitarianism.” Econometrica, vol. 85, no. 4, 2017, pp. 1261-1276.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Utilitarianism: Poverty Reduction Through Charity." February 24, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Utilitarianism: Poverty Reduction Through Charity'. 24 February.

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