Act utilitarianism is an action that is morally required just because it does more to improve overall well-being than any other action you could have done in the circumstances. The principle of utility states that you should always perform the action that maximizes overall utility. Act utilitarianism and the principle of utility is a large portion of what I am going to refer to in this essay.
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The moral worth of any action is determined by outcome or consequences which explains why utilitarianism is a version of consequentialism. Utilitarianism is a form of teleological ethics. This idea is defended by John Stuart Mill (a hedonist), and an important British philosopher.
A hedonist is a person who believes that the pursuit of pleasure is the most important thing in life; a pleasure-seeker. According to his beliefs, we are required to maximize the greatest good for the greatest good for the greatest number of people. I am defending an objection to this claim that utilitarianism has no real way to account for rights and that there is no action that is ruled immoral under this argument. In addition to this the argument of utilitarianism is ambiguous. The objection that I am defending states that (1) If utilitarianism is true, then it will never require us to commit serious injustices. (2) Utilitarianism sometimes requires us to commit serious injustices. So, (3) Utilitarianism is not true. Just because something makes all people happy does not make it right for all people. It is also wrong to harm certain individuals in order to make other people happy.
The objection I am defending calls attention to problems to justice and in the rights of the individual and democratic equality. The first justice-related objection I am going to defend is problem of the violation of rights, for example, if there is a religious group whose practices are seen as offensive to the rest or majority of society. In a utilitarian population, members can decide that preventing the minority group from performing their religious acts would be proper for the well- being of the members. Consequently, because it would maximize the overall utility of the society. This can be seen as a problem because the group who holds different practices from the majority has their rights violated and impeded upon. According to the theory, if there is an event that occurs, that is not recognized as important or mandatory to the overall happiness of a given society, then it will not be supported.
The principle is a selfish one because it is only having an interest in magnifying utilitarianism. This is can be demonstrated as negative principle for example, as shown in the television show, Black Mirror third season episode Men Against Fire. Soldiers are inserted with an implant called MASS, that distorts their reality. through their eyes, aliens are infected and steal from the citizens in the community, this results in the soldiers killing the infected people given the name roaches. One soldiers MASS glitches from a device made from the roaches. He then makes a discovery that after all the creatures he saw as monsters are just human. The military he works for is using the MASS to promote genocide. Utilitarianism’s principles would categorize the scenario that takes place in the television show as plausible to make the genocide morally right, because it promoted happiness for the larger and powerful population of the community.
While we know that genocide is morally wrong and cruel, in the position of utilitarianism, it would be seen as fitting. Another reason I am defending the objection of injustice is because it calls attention to problems pertaining to the violation of individuals religious and socioeconomic statuses as well as the rights appertaining to a person. I deny utilitarianism because it does not protect individuals against opinions of the majority. If the happiness of the people is increased enough, it can justify making one (or a few) miserable in service of the rest(psychology today.)
Another component to take into account is that status of the person making the decisions. There could be a doctor who is known as a public figure who decides the fate of his/her patients. Suppose the doctor has to choose between five patients, and one has to have a heart transplant, two both need one lung each, one needs a liver, and the other a kidney. If a healthy candidate comes into the office the doctor could ponder to decide to inject him/her with a deadly solution, so they could contribute to the lives of the five unhealthy patients. He would consider this option because that is the option that would be viewed as doing the most good.
In addition to that, because of the status and prestige of the person that can make the decision there would be no one to intervene with the deciding process. Utilitarianism can require that one commit unjust actions in certain situations, and because of this it is fundamentally flawed. We know that cruelty is wrong to do to an innocent person even if it can benefit others in the end.
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