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Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is one of the many ethical theories and according to which an action is right or wrong depending on the maximization of the overall well-being. In other terms, an action is termed as being ethical if the number of people benefiting from it is higher than those that do not get positive benefits. The theory requires people to make decisions and actions that maximize the well-being of the highest number of people possible. The welfare, in this case, is closely associated with happiness (Eggleston, B. 452).

Utilitarianism is universal where every community has its own set of rules and if followed maximizes happiness. In most cases, it applies in the modern democracy where governments use the theory to determine what is right for the people (Eggleston, B. 453). The approach has flaws however that cannot be assumed. One of the weaknesses is that it does not adhere to individual rights like the right to life, to liberty, and to fair treatment. When one has a right to something, it means that they deserve to be given even though people do not agree with the person. However, the theory disregards an individual and instead supports what the majority want in spite of it being a violation of the single individual’s right.

The other flaw in the theory is that it is consequential and does not look at the past actions of an individual. As a result, an individual who follows this theory does not look at the past to weigh but instead focuses on the future and in a way blurs the intention of the act. Finally, the utilitarian theory is excessively demanding. For example, if an individual has a resource needed by another person, the person with the resource is obliged to give it to the person in need if the person would benefit more the person giving would lose (Eggleston, B. 456).

The implication of this is that although the theory is applicable in some cases, it should not be the only theory to be used as when looking at an act, it is always good to consider the other side of the situation. For example, when considering an individual’s contribution to the greatest good, his/her happiness should be put into consideration.


Work Cited


Eggleston, B. "Utilitarianism." Encyclopedia Of Applied Ethics, 2012, pp. 452-458. Elsevier,

doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-373932-2.00220-9.

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