Utilitarianism: the Philosophy that Chooses to Please

Since we are young we are taught to do good by others and as we get older we learn that we also have to please ourselves. When studying philosophy you see there are many philosophies that go like this, but there are others that go in different directions. These go in directions that only focus on you, ignore you and go to other, or simply just ignore everything. One of these philosophies is Utilitarianism which states that …actions are right if they are useful or for the benefit of a majority. and the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would want to be done onto you. Utilitarianism is a philosophy chooses the person(s) welfare, as a set of rules that set the guidelines for a decision, and have had impacts on us in both good and bad.

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Utilitarianism wasn’t a philosophy about pleasing God or being true to abstract values, it is about making the world as happy as possible. There are two parts to Utilitarianism, The Primary Principle that the greater good is done for the greater number, and The Golden Rule do to others as you would want to be done to you. The Primary Principle at the basic level means that when it comes down to two options in a decision, that the option that does more good for the greater amount of people must be made in order for it to be good. An example of this would be an action be taken to satisfy the majority of people who want that decision made, so their welfare matters the most in this case.The Golden Rule at the basic level states that the way a person acts to another should be the way that person would want to be treated in the same position. Utilitarianism also takes stances on types of pleasure we endure, they are separated into two, Higher Pleasure and Lower Pleasure. Higher Pleasure is the pleasure of the mind, such as emotions and conscious. Lower Pleasure is the pleasure of the body, that would be.

Utilitarianism has four theses that determine if actions are right. The first thesis is Consequentialism, the righteous of actions is determined solely by their consequences. The second is Hedonism, The thesis that pleasure or happiness is the good that we seek and that we should seek.2 The third is Maximalism, a right action produced the greatest good consequences and the least bad.2 The finale is Universalism, the consequences to be considered are those of everyone affected and everyone equally.

Epistemology is the importance of knowledge to the philosophy and to the one understanding it. Utilitarianism does have a stance but it is not one that focuses on knowledge. Knowledge is not good-in-itself, and neither is understanding, nor epistemic justification, nor true belief. All are good only insofar as they tend to enhance welfare The philosophy focuses on the welfare of others rather knowledge. This means that Utilitarianism is not as focused on knowledge as other philosophies are and would rather focus on the person(s) and their welfare. This means that people’s happiness is more important than the knowledge that could be learned through experience and learning.

The philosophy of Utilitarianism is said to have come from Jeremey Benthem and revised by John Stewert Mill, but the origins of the philosophy go further back to the Philosopher David Hume. David Hume is known for discovering the philosophy of Empiricism and Skepticism. David Hume founded these philosophies on the basis that God isn’t real, this leaves out any sort of divinity out of the picture essentially leaving it up to the average man. Although he found the policy of utility he was not the one who made it into the full-fledged philosophy that it is known as today.

Jeremy Bentham was an English philosopher and political radical., he is also most famously known for finding the philosophy Utilitarianism. Influenced by many Enlightenment thinkers…David Hume…4, he has credited David Hume as an influence for the finding of Utilitarianism. the greatest happiness principle” or “the principle of utility”a term which he borrows from Hume.4 Bentham also wrote on the philosophy of law, even though he never he never practiced law. Throughout his, Bentham wrote many theses, books, and essays on the philosophy of Utilitarianism. David died on June 6, 1832, in London, after his death he had left thousands of manuscripts, he also had his body placed in a cabinet that now sits in University College, London. After his, it wouldn’t be long till another politically active philosopher would revise the philosophy of Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill was that man.

John Stuart Mill, much like Bentham influenced the British philosophy and political spectrum. James Mill started as a minister which didn’t go in the direction he wanted it to go but …James Mill received assistance from friends including the great legal theorist and utilitarian reformer Jeremy Bentham, whom he met in 1808.The second version of secular utilitarianism, a work by Bentham, is what inspired Mill and hooked him into the world of utilitarianism. Mill being active in politics introduced the principle of utility into politics against reform. He advocated a state of affairs in which all people are as happy and well off as they can be, this is his use of the Primary Principle in politics. Mill died in 1836 in Avignon, France.

A way that Utilitarianism has been used in a way that affects us today may not be what some would think of at first but a law passed not long ago, no texting and driving. For years phone-related car crashes were at large. Many people complained about the law and how it did nothing to prevent this kind of thing from happening. Then a law was passed that made texting/calling on the phone while driving illegal was passed. Some were angered by this but a majority were pleased by this. This follows the goals of Utilitarianism since it paid attention to the majority and cared for their opinions.

Although the philosophy was based on man rather than any sense of God it has to be pointed out that the The Golden Rule was given to the followers of Jesus as seen in Matthew 7:12, So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. In this case, Jesus was teaching his followers the importance of the type of treatment towards their fellow brothers/sisters, he was not teaching them the philosophy of Utilitarianism. Looking at this it is evident that The Golden Rule was not just something taught by either philosophers or religious figures but rather that it is a universal law that should be observed by all. That would be the only thing Jesus has in common with Utilitarianism, he would most likely not have agreed with the Primary Principle since it pleases the majority, even if the action is wrong. Jesus taught that all decisions should be made based on their morality, not their outcome. An example that would put Jesus and Utilitarianism head to head could go like this, a doctor has a vaccine for a disease and he has the option to use it on the only known patient with it or sell it to benefit the whole hospital, Utilitarianism would say sell it in order to help the hospital and all its inhabitants but Jesus would say to give it to the one who needs it.

Although the concept of Utilitarianism is determined an action is right based on its outcome, it has proven that it can be used in an immoral way to sway people. The Nazis are notorious for their crimes against Jew, Gypsies, Cripples, and more but one thing that gets overlooked is the medical treatment towards those the Nazi’s considered undesirable, it’s been argued that the Nazi’s used Utilitarian principles as an excuse. To attempt an answer to this complex problem this paper centers its analysis around three topical areas: 1) the prelude is briefly considered; 2) some of the actual public medical laws and their justification by professional groups are examined; and 3) the “hidden” implementation of mass-scale sterilization, castration and “euthanasia” is analyzed with respect to intentional or non-intentional utilitarian reasoning.It argues that the Nazis used Utilitarianism as a way to perform euthanasia and other medical procedures. This is an example that just because the philosophy’s goal is to have a good outcome that it can be twisted into an evil act. It can be assumed that Hitler even used utilitarianism or its goals as a way to explain his mass genocide against all he considered non-human or unwanted.

After researching and getting a lesson on the philosophy of Utilitarianism I can’t give a definite answer to whether or not I believe this philosophy works or doesn’t work. On the side that says the philosophy works there is the evidence that its ultimate goal is to bring the most good and happiness to the majority. I can see that it is intended for a greater purpose than but that being said it also has its flaws. One big flaw that we went over in class and that I’ve seen through the research is how its goal is a not so clear one. When it states that it wants to bring the most happiness what does it mean by that, it is impossible to measure happiness in everyone, or at least the majority. Say a law is passed that states all guns are banned, the majority which is non-gun owners would probably be at ease knowing that a gun-related crime would no longer happen. Then there is the small percent of those who do actually own guns who no longer can, they will see it as an inconvenience. Flash forward a few weeks later crimes that involve illegally owned guns break out more, those who did own guns could have stopped a percent of those crimes themselves. The point is that although the majority benefited or had the most joy from the decision, in the long run, they suffered the most, as did the minority. This can also go wrong in the world of law and order. By Utilitarianism’s standards, the greatest good for the greatest number, if a group of criminals went against one person they would win only due to their numbers. I know the philosophy means well and I get that it just wants to make the world a happier place but the truth of the matter is that it is impossible to make everyone happy, let alone a lot of them. By now I take the stand that the philosophy doesn’t work, maybe in a society not as stubborn as our it can.

Through month’s of research, it is evident that the teaching, goals, and stances of Utilitarianism have had an impact on us all either as a whole or from bit and pieces embedded into our laws and into our history. Bad or good it has made an impact through its Primary Principle or it Golden Rule

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Utilitarianism: The Philosophy That Chooses To Please. (2019, Aug 08). Retrieved October 6, 2022 , from
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