Humans are taught to accept the moral truths of their actions, which is the foundation of morality. However, utilitarianism contradicts fundamental moral beliefs while re-establishing the line between good and evil. Thus, utilitarianism is the concept that an action’s moral worth is explicitly determined by its cumulative utility in maximizing happiness while minimizing potential harm (Djeriouat and Trémolière 14). What makes this theory intriguing is its contradictory ideologies regarding traditional morality norms. The following sections of the paper will attempt to prove why utilitarianism is ultimately plausible.
Utilitarianism theory holds a philosophical view that humans should be able to evaluate a myriad of things that are intrinsically connected to the choices that they make. Among the things that can be evaluated under utilitarianism include laws, policies and moral codes. Alternatively, utilitarianism can be regarded as a form of consequentialism because of the consequences emanating from actions that determine what is good or bad. Therefore, the utilitarian will naturally choose the action that maximizes happiness or utility and minimizes misery, pain, and destitution regardless of its moral threshold (Piacquadio 1264).
In furtherance, the most prevalent criticisms against utilitarianism emanate from misconceptions that it provides wrong answers to pertinent moral questions. Critics widely opposed to utilitarianism opine that it permits and encourages actions and behavioral tendencies that are proven to be morally wrong (Piacquadio 1267). For instance, a state prosecutor can prefer charges on an innocent individual to avert potential riots that could lead to mass casualties. Critics are therefore opposed to actions promoted by utilitarianism which tend to make some deeds morally permissible despite being wrong.
Critics also tend to think that utilitarianism’s commitment to impartiality is far-fetched and unrealistic thus making it a false theory. According to critics, utilitarianism deprives individuals the power to focus on themselves and their families as it advocates for denial of personal gains to help advance the happiness of others. As a result, critics reject the notion that people should treat others with love and selflessly advance their progress even if they are strangers (Lucas and Galinsky 545). Consequently, empowering impoverished strangers rather benefitting ourselves ultimately proves that utilitarianism is a falsified theoretical concept with no basis of relevance. The falsification of utilitarianism, therefore, draws its existence on its alleged failure to recognize moral legitimacy of preferential treatment to people we know. Also, since humanity is self-absorbed, any kind of morality that forbids individual empowerment and emphasizes on equal consideration of strangers becomes too demanding.
Despite underlying criticism facing utilitarianism, it remains the most reasonable theory to adopt in order to maximize happiness since it makes a few sacrifices for the sake of the common good. In every action made through utilitarianism, it ultimately yields more utility than any other action that is available to us thus making the cumulative benefits the highest possible. It is therefore plausible to suggest that maximizing the cumulative utility within an individual’s power results into the highest reward for everyone involved (Djeriouat and Trémolière 13). Alternatively, if an individual decides to choose an action that produces less utility even if it is morally right then the total utility of actions become less than the amount of the intended good. Imperatively, upholding utilitarianism, therefore, justifies the need to perform actions that guarantee to the society cumulative benefits as opposed to individual gains.
An equally significant aspect of utilitarianism is that it is more advanced than traditional and rule-based societal moralities. Traditional norms guided by a set of rules with regards to certain types of actions make life difficult because people must only act within the confines of such expectations. Since these traditional moralities are predetermined, people are forced to adhere to them to uphold the institution of morality regardless of their limitations to maximize happiness. Utilitarianism, therefore, emerges as a superior alternative that outrightly rejects the rigid rule-based moralities that identify right and wrong (Djeriouat and Trémolière 15). Utilitarians argue that it not logical to classify classes of actions as right or wrong because their effects might differ when they are conducted in different contexts. As such people are at liberty to do what is generally right but if doing more good is guaranteed by violating a traditional moral standing then those violations are acceptable.
The desire to behave and act within the confines of moral standing is undisputable. Morality forms the fabric of the modern society and holds it together. It gives direction for informed judgment and decision based on the need for equality and fairness. Utilitarianism, on the other hand, promotes equality but without strict compliance with the rule of traditions and societal expectations. It is because of this flexibility that human beings should strive to adopt utilitarianism where they maximize benefit regardless of action taken. Once people embrace utilitarianism, the decisions we make and the actions we take will consequently rely on the actual or intended consequences of the available options. Utilitarianism, therefore, allows people to predict the amount of utility resulting from an action and ultimately enable them to know which action is right or wrong based on the resulting amount of happiness.
Djeriouat, Hakim, and Bastien Trémolière. “The Dark Triad of personality and utilitarian moral judgment: the mediating role of Honesty/Humility and Harm/Care.” Personality and Individual Differences 67 (2014): 11-16.
Lucas, Brian J., and Adam D. Galinsky. “Is utilitarianism risky? How the same antecedents and mechanism produce both utilitarian and risky choices.” Perspectives on psychological science 10.4 (2015): 541-548.
Piacquadio, Paolo Giovanni. “A fairness justification of utilitarianism.” Econometrica 85.4 (2017): 1261-1276.