Utilitarianism as an ethical perspective emerged in the 18th century. However, Aristotle had utilitarian notions. It's a liberal-rooted view of morality or "how to act." Utilitarianism bases decisions on consequences. As a moral theory, there are numerous critiques of Utilitarianism, which vary since it's not a single coherent theory but a collection of linked views that have grown over time. In this post, I'll describe some of Utilitarianism's flaws and argue that they're insurmountable.
As a theory, Utilitarianism is commonly attributed to Jeremy Bentham. Still, similar concepts appeared in David Hume's An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals and Francis Hutchinson's An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (2). Utilitarianism says an act is moral if it benefits the most people. It tells us to look at whatever distribution of happiness between sentient creatures maximizes happiness. It's methodical. Politics and economics have been influenced by Utilitarianism for two centuries. In modern life, Utilitarianism has influenced public policy. What's more essential in political discussions than making people happier?
John Stuart Mill is a prominent utilitarian theorist. His renowned essay is Utilitarianism. Mill sees a moral dilemma, philosophers can't agree on good and wrong, and Mill contends that morality needs a foundation. So vital is Utilitarianism.
Bentham and Mill assess usefulness and pleasure differently. Bentham utilizes the hedonic calculus to quantify pleasure's length, intensity, certainty, distance, fertility, extent, and purity. Bentham treated all joys equally. By this, he doesn't imply all pleasures are equal, but that the legislator his utilitarianism work is directed at shouldn't value one above another.
Mill categorized pleasures as higher and lower. First, Mill's categorization of higher and lower pleasures is a flaw in his Utilitarianism. The distinction between these joys is in kind, not the degree, making action comparisons problematic. Higher and lesser joys are distinct and cannot be compared. How does Mill's utilitarianism account for more incredible and lesser pleasures?
About John Stuart Mill's classification of higher and lower pleasures, a common criticism of simple versions of the theory like Bentham's Utilitarianism is that "they reduce the subtleties of human life to a stark calculation of animal-like pleasures, with no concern for how these pleasures are produced." This led to Utilitarianism being called a "pig doctrine." (Classical, utilitarian) John Stuart Mill's version of Utilitarianism differs from Jeremy Bentham's "simple" version. Intellectual joys are more valuable than bodily ones, according to Mill. Bentham equates to all pleasures. Mill believes it's better to be an unhappy human than a satisfied pig and a dissatisfied Socrates than a satisfied stupid. Humans can have intellectual and physical pleasures, but pigs can't. Intellectual joys are preferable to physical ones, he says. Those still led astray by lower physical ones go for immediate sensory enjoyment, even if they know higher, intellectual ones are more valuable.
Mil's notion of more significant and lower pleasures is faulty. Selfishness has been criticized. An intellectual views his favourite pleasures as superior, more essential. As an academic, Mill may be prejudiced towards higher and lesser pleasures.
Slavery is another critique of Utilitarianism. This is as long as the enslaved people were happy or the benefactors' happiness was more significant than the enslaved people's dissatisfaction. Bentham disputes this, arguing that human choices best indicate what makes people happy, and as slavery is never a choice, enslaved people can never be satisfied.
Bentham also popularised Utilitarianism as 'highest happiness for the greatest number' this means "utilitarianism sacrifices the few for the many" Some believe that Utilitarianism favours slavery if the economic rewards exceed the enslaved people's suffering. Bentham argues against this, saying "the greatest pleasure for the greatest number" should prioritize the helpless many above the strong few.
Utilitarianism overlooks justice, another complaint. H. J. McCloskey's 1957 article An Examination of Restricted Utilitarianism is a notable example of this criticism. If framing an innocent guy for a crime will decrease further rioting and misery, the utilitarian theory would argue that this would be the best solution, as although an innocent man would suffer, for a more significant number of people, less pain will be produced, culminating in the computation of more pleasure overall. If the primary goal of utilitarian theory is to maximize enjoyment and diminish misery for the more significant number, justice will be overlooked. Bentham disagrees that utilitarian’s will abandon justice and punish an innocent man for the greater good. BENTHAM'S CASE
John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism can have disagreeable implications if applied strictly. Numerous utilitarian detractors assert this, and there are many examples of unsatisfactory practical outcomes.
The greatest happiness for the most significant number is a challenging utilitarian concept to follow. Every activity a person performs should aid more people. It demands the actor to be neutral about his joys and aspirations and focus on others'. "Utilitarianism asks him to be as neutral as a beneficent observer" (2) Jsmill utilitarianism This is so taxing because there are so many people in need of support and so many ways to sacrifice for them. There's no distinction between aiding friends and relatives vs. strangers. The ideal practical decision would be to labour extensively and earn as much money as possible to help the poor. We'd become altruistic cogs and neglect our human nature to have free time and personal demands. This relates to Utilitarianism's primary objection that it overlooks individuality and rights. Mill argues Utilitarianism cannot respect individual rights. Despite John Stuart Mill's defence, I do not believe utilitarianism groups people without considering their individuality. One would sacrifice one's goals, needs, and aspirations for greater enjoyment. Utilitarian’s contend that living by principle would make the world a better place. I'm afraid I have to disagree and think Utilitarianism lacks respect for individual rights. This is a fundamental difficulty with the idea, but I don't think it's insurmountable.
Act-utilitarianism is difficult. Critics of Utilitarianism say it leads to a harsh, austere life.
Bernard Williams criticizes Utilitarianism. He says morality requires honesty and devotion. He thinks Utilitarianism lacks moral agency. His illustration of Utilitarianism's flaw is separating an act from its result. It's hard to argue that action, not a bad result, is immoral. Personal activities are overvalued. For a useful, it's wrong to shoot someone rather than let them die. Williams says that humans don't assess activities by their results. Hence Utilitarianism should be rejected. Williams says this approach of judging eliminates "humanity" from the situation. Moral decisions should protect our mental health.
If John Stuart Mill had presented a good example, his reasoning would have led to a selfish version of Utilitarianism, not the approach that seeks the greatest pleasure for the most significant number. In Mills' example, individual satisfaction equals aggregate happiness. Therefore, he requires a better argument than his offered parallel to explain that all individuals should seek happiness.
The ethically appropriate behaviour in each situation is the most likely to maximize happiness, but Utilitarianism is a complicated collection of beliefs that have grown fast since the 18th century. As a normative theory, Utilitarianism has been criticized for being impractical for decades. I feel Utilitarianism has weaknesses that John Stuart Mill hasn't sufficiently explained. Mill's Utilitarianism is defendable, such as how he handles unworkable computations. His replies to criticism don't convince me that Utilitarianism's issues can be solved. I agree that Utilitarianism might be too demanding, leading to austerity and self-denial. Utilitarianism might be helpful in today's culture as a moral basis for confident decision-making, but as moral philosophy, its issues are insurmountable. This essay's complaints aren't comprehensive.
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