Ultartianisms Way Of Life

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Moral theories are meant to help us figure out what actions are right vs what actions are wrong. My ethical theory is based off of Consequentialism. Consequentialism says that an action is morally required just because it produces the best overall results.

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Consequentialism is not just a simply single theory but it is based off of several theories that all share the same agreement that results are what matter in ethics. The most prominent version of consequentialism is Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is the only thing that is intrinsically valuable. Faring poorly is the only thing that is intrinsically bad. The view of ultariatinism therefor states that an action is morally required just because it does more to improve overall well being than any other action you could have done in the circumstances. According to this acts are right because they maximize the overall amount of wellbeing in the world. We as a society, should be required to create the greatest good for the greatest number.

We are duty bound to maximize well being. John Stuart Mill, a fellow Utilitarianism summarized the outlook by saying that it required us to create the greatest good for the greatest number. This however, was overlooking an important notion. Mill was a hedonist who believed that only happiness was intrinsically valuable and only misery was intrinsically bad. There are several misunderstandings to this theory based on the principle of their being numbers that quantify the idea.

The first misunderstanding in choosing among acts that benefit people, we must benefit the greatest number of people. This is rejected by Mill. If we combine utilitarianism and hedonism, we get the ultimate moral principle that we should produce the greatest overall balance of happiness over misery, The first misunderstanding of this is that in choosing among acts that benefit people, we must benefit the greatest number of people. Mill rejects this. The reason being the act we choose to do may benefit the majority of people to a very small extent however, they benefit to the minority may be very large. For example, let’s say we have a legislature has money left over from the year. They can spend the money and give 90 percent of citizens a 60 dollar gas coupon. The other option they can choose to use this money for would be trying to prevent homelessness and starvation among the poorest 10 percent of people. In many scenarios we of course would argue that giving money to the poor would be better. Even though the benefits favor less people. This is because it would yield more goodness. The second misunderstanding is that we must always choose that actions that creates the greatest amount of happiness. This is also rejected by mill who says that even though the first creates more happiness than the second the first plan may also create a lot of misery while the second, would create a very small amount if any. The correct interpretation is that utilitarians tell us to do what brings the best overall situation by choosing acts that create the greatest net balance of happiness over unhappiness.

Utilitarians make the rightness of an action depend on all of its results. This does not matter if the act took a few days vs a few months. There are two standards of how a Ultartianist goes about this. The first being that the morality of our actions depend on actual results and the second being that they depend on expected results.The standard view is the first one however every moral theory has to allow for some degree of moral ignorance. We do not know what is right and what is wrong. We do not have a crystal ball to detect our future. There is an amount of past experience that we can call upon.

A perfect example of how utilitarianism comes into play is when looking at real life scenarios that focus on the purpose of morality is to make life better by increasing the amount of good things(pleasures and happiness fit into this category) and decreasing the amount of bad things (pain, unhappiness, suffering , etc.)Peter Singer focused on the idea of child poverty and how we should be donating to help decrease the amount of poverty there is in the world. Singer argues that we should be saving the lives of strangers because this has little cost to our lives. Peter Singer makes it clear that in the case of where world poverty is concerned , giving to charity is not charitable and it is not generous. He believes that it’s our duty and we are wrong by not giving a helping hand. Singer makes it clear that charity is up to the individual and no one makes someone donate but if we do, we can reduce avoidable death and suffering by giving funds to certain reliefs. In this sense we are following the utilitarians way of thinking. We are reducing the pain of someone and increasing their happiness. The more lives we help, the greater the happiness gets. The point is to help more lives. The cost of doing so is a morally insignificant reduction in our standard of living. We can not increase the value of our autonomy more than someone else’s and unitarianism makes it clear that we should value everyone’s happiness and benefit the greater good.
Utilitarianism is a doctrine of impartiality and it is one of its greatest strengths. This tells us that the welfare for each person is equally morally valuable. You are just as important as anyone else. Your autonomy is guaranteed, no matter your race, your religion, if you are rich or you are poor, you are still just as good. So on the topic of slavery the well being of the slaves still mattered. Everyone’s well being could still be affected by our actions however, everyone and their autonomy matter.

Although I agree with this theory there are people that will deny the Ultartianisms way of life. Utilitarians think that most of our deeply held moral beliefs are correct. Utilitarianism does a better job than any competing moral theory in justifying our basic moral beliefs. Things we regard as immoral like slavery, killing innocent people, acts that do more harm than good, are condemned by utilitarians. Things that we believe are morally right such as helping the poor, telling the truth, utilitarianism commands these acts as well as we do. It also explains our shared views about virtues and vices. A character trait is a virtue because it tends to cause us to act in highly beneficial ways.Compassion, kindness and benevolence appear on most lists of central moral virtues. These acts reduce misery.Utilitarianism can reduce moral conflict. Maximize well being and can concrete guidance where it is most needed.

People will argue false happiness in the sense that what people are happy about is not always good for them. Considering someone talking bad about your friend because they are sensitive and then your friend asking(etc). If we deny this she is falsely happy. Although this is true, it does not mean that the person had bad intentions when talking bad about my friend, so we can’t rule it out and say that this would not increase the well being of the person.

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