Utilitarianism Versus Deontologism Essay

1331 words - 6 pages

Introduction
Utilitarianism is normative ethical theory from a school of thought that believes we must guide our actions always by the consequences that can from follow them. Utilitarian’s believe we ought to implement the actions that bring the most overall happiness. Deontologists believe in an ethical theory that is guided by maxims, which means the action you choose must be applied to all scenarios, for example even if lying is the best option in one particular situation, in most regular situations lying will cause more damage so we must follow that as a principle all the time. I’m going to go in depth on how both a Utilitarian and Deontologist would rationalize their duties to be charitable to the less fortunate and argue that Deontologists give the better account and why we ought be charitable. This is because Deontologists have a principle of treating others only as ends and never as means and they will always choose to help the poor it is not conditional of whether it brings the most happiness.
Utilitarianism’s Justification
Utilitarianism aims us to seek out the action that will provide the most overall happiness. A utilitarian would rationalize giving aid to the unfortunate only if it would provide the most happiness. There are several problems that the utilitarianism theory has overlooked. The first issue is how can happiness be measured? Jeremy Bentham an early proponent of this theory claimed that happiness could be measured purely numerically. If option x, makes twenty people happy and option y makes only thirteen people happy then we should implement option x. On the other hand John Mill states that qualitative happiness should play a role in our decisions as well, indicating that some pleasures are higher than others. For example giving food and water to a starving person might be better because they would be extremely happy and experience a sort of survivors euphoria rather than just giving food and water to ten people who ate an hour ago. Also, suppose the happiness the ten satisfied people and the one starving person had received where exactly equal, we would be unable to decide what would be better only based on happiness. However let us assume that these issues can be dealt with easily and the Utilitarianism can decide without this conceptual hesitation. The real problem is as follows, Utilitarianism is backwards in that we should be deciding on what’s moral first and then we may experience some sort of happiness or not, but happiness is definitely not equivalent to morality. It’s possible that morality and happiness may be congruent on a variety of issues but that cannot be true all the time. If we simply rely only on happiness to make moral choices we are then subject to a large group of the population becoming misguided on morality and still being happy. For example a majority of the population in Nazi Germany was happy to evoke anti-Semitic laws, this was clearly immoral but it made a large amount of people happy. A...

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