Consequentialism: An Analysis Of Utilitarianism By John Stuart Mill
happiness. (He relates utility to the “greatest happiness principle,” a concept by philosopher
Jeremy Bentham.) Mill describes happiness as “pleasure and the absence of pain.” Something of
extrinsic value has worth only because of the value or benefits it brings to something else;
something of intrinsic value has worth because of the value it possesses even while alone.
According to Utilitarianism, human happiness, or pleasure without pain, is the only thing of
intrinsic value. Utilitarianism is an offshoot of Consequentialism, which holds that the
rightness or wrongness of an action is evaluated by the outcome. (Consequentialism will be
discussed …show more content…
As was described before, Consequentialism is the theory that an action can only be
evaluated by the end result(s), or consequence(s), of the action. According to Consequentialism,
what is right and what is wrong may only be determined by the outcome, regardless of intent.
Utilitarianism is a theory which lies under the umbrella of Consequentialism; Utilitarianism
evaluates actions based on their outcomes in that the right actions are those which produce the
greatest amount of happiness. Suppose a man has just noticed that a dog (beloved by a family that
lives down the road) is about to be hit by a careless driver. In the time it takes him to notice that
the dog will be hit if he does not move, he calls the dog over, but the dog does not (and can not)
move out of the way on his own. If the man runs to the dog and picks him up before the car
collides with the dog, according to Utilitarianism, the man produces the greatest amount of
happiness within the family that the dog belongs to (rather than great sadness if he does not …show more content…
It becomes clear that Singer’s weak principle is not an adequate defense of Utilitarianism.
The provisions set by Utilitarianism may conflict with those set by the weak principle.
Utilitarianism states that right actions produce the greatest amount of human happiness, but the
weak principle does not obligate people to sacrifice things of moral significance; in cases where
the greatest human happiness is produced by someone else’s sacrifice of something morally
significant, which action is one obligated to take?
Consider once more the example of the car and the dog. Suppose that the dog belongs to a
large family who has a deep emotional connection to the dog. If Man A does not save the dog
because he is not obligated to, and the car kills the dog on impact, then the dog’s death impacts
the family in a tremendously sorrowful (and unhappy) way, but the man will remain content. If
Man A does save the dog, then the family becomes tremendously content upon learning of what
Man A has done, but Man A becomes sorrowful for his own loss. (Let us assume that the