Advantage Of Utilitarianism

(i) What are the main advantages of utilitarianism? (21 marks)

Utilitarianism is a teleological ethical theory that aims to define moral actions as those which satisfy the principle of utility. This states that actions are good insofar as they promote the greatest amount of happiness, and in making moral decisions, one should act in the way which promotes the greatest happiness for the greatest number of individuals.

Humans have always considered happiness as a fundamental end goal to strive towards and this hedonistic theory has some origins in Epicurean philosophy. Epicurus’ ideology suggested that pleasure is of intrinsic value to humans; he taught that one should strive towards a life without suffering and thus a state of “ataraxia”
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Preference utilitarianism is a contemporary evolution of the ethic which replaces the notion of morality being defined by pleasure and lack of pain with morality being the fulfilment of the individual’s best interests. To appeal to and satisfy the interests of an individual is much less complicated and arguably more important than trying to raise their happiness levels or achieving the balance between pleasure and pain, because it is simpler for individuals to state their preferences given a situation than to try and bring about the state of affairs that would produce the greatest amount of happiness. In his 1973 text The Language of Morals, R.M Hare stated that “equal preferences count equally, whatever their content” and thus, so long as preferences do not conflict within a community, it is easier to work out what the most moral action to take would be: every factor is equal and there is no striving to reach the greatest level of pleasure, where some actions and effects would elicit more or less valuable pleasure than others. R.M Hare believed that to accurately make moral decisions one had to treat everyone, including oneself, with impartiality - so rather than one person’s morals being defined differently to others because of their socioeconomic status or gender, moral decisions should be based on …show more content…
He says that in order to gain a definitive idea of the morality of a situation, one has to take into consideration the desires of every individual that is affected by the action. Only once every preference has been weighed up can a true decision be made; he states that “my interests cannot, simply because they are my interests, count more than the interests of anyone else”. This echoes ideas of negative utilitarianism simultaneously, in that Singer strived towards decreasing the level of suffering and pain rather than trying to increase the level of pleasure that was experienced. This may be because it is easier to define pain and suffering and it may be easier to reach a definitive conclusion of what causes pain rather than what causes pleasure, as people exhibit happiness in different ways and elicit varying levels of pleasure from different actions, but generally, immoral acts cause pain to others, and pain is more easily

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