The Fundamental Problem With The Greatest Happiness Essay

934 Words Nov 7th, 2016 4 Pages
The fundamental problem with the greatest happiness for the greatest number, is that it eradicates genuine people and turns them simply into numbers. This is shown explicitly in Bentham’s hedonic calculus, which turns ethics into a calculation. The issue with this is that it can deem blatantly immoral acts as “the right thing to do”. Following this philosophy, we can easily justify, injustices and the violation of rights such as gang rape, murder or the general suffering of others in order to provide the masses with pleasure. However, this is assuming Bentham’s hedonistic views, that happiness is pleasure, an idea that has since been disputed by philosophers such as Mill. If we are to abide by Bentham’s thesis that morality is best described as the greatest happiness for the greatest number, injustices could often be considered the right thing to do. As highlighted by James Rachels, “What things are good?” is a different question to “What actions are right?”. To prove this, Rachel’s goes onto reference J. J. McCloskey’s fictional story of a black man raping a white woman, inciting a riot. The utilitarian would be required to bare false witness, in order to stop the riots and protect the masses, as it would provide the most happiness. However, can it be considered moral to lie in court and punish an innocent bystander in order to satisfy the needs of the public? No, this would be a complete display of injustice and could not be considered right. However, there is a flaw i…

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