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Utilitarianism Theory: Value and Disadvantages

Utilitarianism theory states that the moral value of an individual’s deed can be determined by the way it is effective in the long run. This means how an action is able to make an individual happy thus leading to the conclusion that the moral value of this action is determined by its end result. Scholars view utilitarianism to be the way people deny themselves to benefit the larger society. It hence advises that the end result of an individual’s actions is happiness and that whatever determines an individual’s actions as correct or incorrect is happiness and pain. This means that happiness is projected by pleasure when there is no pain and unhappiness when there is pain.

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The good value of this theory is that it is only required for its ability to accomplish the maximum good. This is because it is based on the capability to predict the penalty of an individual’s action. It is based on the fact that the choice that results in benefiting more people is ethically right. It is very useful in determining what options will be able to benefit more people by comparing predicted solutions that are related to a point system. Utilitarianism believes that happiness can be brought about by the urge to make others’ lives better; this means making other people happy.

Another good value about this theory is the fact that it perceives ethics as a personal point and not a way of judging the deeds of other individuals or judging actions that have already been accomplished. In this theory morality is an important issue to look at before making a decision or taking any action. In this way, intentions are the only things that have any value because the consequences cannot be known with conviction until a decision is made.

Personally, I feel that this theory is unsatisfactory with how it deals with issues affecting everyday life. This theory mostly supports the fact that an action is right if it produces more happiness for an individual. It ignores the fact that other ethical theories that support people’s actions whether right or wrong should be independent of their own consequences. The theory brings out the fact that happiness can be achieved even from bad intentions and that an individual ought to act in order to achieve the best consequences attainable. This theory is biased in the case where the actions of an individual whether right or wrong wholly depend on the intentions of the individual.

This theory does not address how two separate individuals can have their level of happiness significantly counted collectively. The theory provides for the fact that a group of people is treated as a sole conscious individual thus incorrectly overlooking the fact that there is a separate consciousness. Pain and happiness cannot pass and they are fundamental and cannot be separated from the consciousness from which they are perceived. This makes it impossible to count the happiness of many people.

Another problem with the utilitarian theory is that it seems to consider the end result of actions and not at the requirements or the purpose that inspire these actions which many individuals consider to be very important. In this theory, an action that was supposed to cause pain but accidentally results in happiness is treated in the same way as a good result of a deed that was performed with good intentions. The theory also states that any bad intentions may result in destruction even if they do not actually result in bad actions.

The theory also does not permit the cases where an individual can be considered to be a hero. This is because individuals are compelled to act in a way that will benefit other people despite the fact that one can be harmed while performing the act. An example is where an individual run into a house on fire to save someone who is still inside. This person is in this case considered to be fulfilling a requirement that is mandatory in society rather than a selfless act that deserves to be praised.

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In this theory, an individual’s needs may be overlooked with the purpose of benefiting other people. This means that the theory is not at all times concerned with matters of justice or independence of a person if dominating that person leads to the solutions that will benefit the greater population. The theory portrays inconsistencies in cases where a person is faced with certain circumstances and then suddenly encounters a change in those circumstances and therefore is forced to deviate from the original decision. This will mean that the utilitarian act can be on your side one moment and other times it will not be on your side because you are no longer beneficial to the greater population. (Singer)

Though I strongly support utilitarianism’s advocacy of putting the welfare of the larger society before your own, I have my misgivings for it. I find the belief that happiness can be gotten from both good and bad decisions to be unethical. This doctrine encourages people to live reckless lives because they know their actions won’t count in the end if all goes well. I believe that happiness is an important consequence or end result but at the same time consequences like fairness or equality are of great value in spite of whether they maximize happiness or not.

Works Cited

Singer, Peter. Practical ethics. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, 1993. Print.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 11). Utilitarianism Theory: Value and Disadvantages. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/utilitarianism-theory-value-and-disadvantages/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 11). Utilitarianism Theory: Value and Disadvantages. https://studycorgi.com/utilitarianism-theory-value-and-disadvantages/

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1. StudyCorgi. "Utilitarianism Theory: Value and Disadvantages." November 11, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/utilitarianism-theory-value-and-disadvantages/.


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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Utilitarianism Theory: Value and Disadvantages." November 11, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/utilitarianism-theory-value-and-disadvantages/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Utilitarianism Theory: Value and Disadvantages'. 11 November.

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