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What are the advantages and disadvantages of utilitarianism, what are the main problems of utilitarianism and to what extent does this make utilitarianism un-acceptable?

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Introduction

What are the advantages and disadvantages of utilitarianism, what are the main problems of utilitarianism and to what extent does this make utilitarianism un-acceptable? Utilitarianism derives from the word "utilis" a Latin word which means "useful in the English language. Utilitarianism deals with decisions and situation ethics, as in, what action in a certain situation will bring out the greatest good to the greatest amount of people. The theory which was devised by Jeremy Bentham, it is a teleological theory, looking at the ends to which certain actions come to. Bentham created his ethical theory based on moral law, based on what is wrong and right. Bentham divided his theory into different parts. Bentham theorised that human beings are motivated by pleasure and pain, he believed that every human being sought to obtain there own personal state of pleasures, and avoid what they would call pain, this is a "hedonistic" view. "Nature has placed mankind under governance of two sovereign masters; pleasure and pain. ...read more.

Middle

John Stuart Mill was a very intelligent theologian, who added to the utilitarianism theory. For Mill, the well being of an individual or a society was of the up most importance, and that the happiness of an individual is most effective when that individual is free to pursue their own will or end, but in limits to what gives the greatest good to the greatest number of people. For example, Hitler wanted to wipe out all "inferior" races, to come to his own means, or end, of creating a "super race" this was obviously what made him the happiest. However, left to pursue his dream, Hitler murdered millions of innocent people; this was not for the greater good of the greatest majority. Mill focused on qualitative pleasures, and stated that some pleasures are higher than others, like those mental pleasures would be seen as a higher sense of pleasure than physical pleasures. Utilitarianism can be seen in to respects, there is "Act utilitarianism" and "Rule utilitarianism". ...read more.

Conclusion

In each case the rule takes priority over the intermediate situation. Rule utilitarianism overcomes some problems of Act utilitarianism, such as in the charity example given earlier, the community has a rule to allow people time for leisure and the freedom to buy whatever they choose, therefore the complete donations is avoided. However it does prove a few more drastic difficulties, such as in certain practices, like slavery, that appears to be morally unacceptable, because minor interests are not protected, but as long as there are more masters than slaves it may seem that slavery is doing the greater good for the greater number. And this is obviously un-acceptable. There are many problems with utilitarianism. How do you quantify happiness? And how do you spread out happiness? Some pain is good for us, just like some pleasure may be bad. The abuse of solvents gives one an instant high, which to some is pleasurable, but can be fatal, such as injections of medicine hurt, but the medicine administered may just save an individuals life. Utilitarianism fails to consider different views of happiness; only due to the practical dimensions of utilitarianism has it remained popular. ...read more.

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