Inquiring & Exploring - Essay Example

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Insert Name Tutor Course Date Introduction Being philosophically oriented, one of the questions which have been of great interest to me is whether or not, utilitarianism should be taken as the panacea to man’s moral problems or not. Basically, utilitarianism is a theory or school of thought in normative ethics which postulates that the appropriate course of action is the one which maximizes utility, being normally defined as maximizing (to the greatest extent possible), happiness, while minimizing (to the greatest extent possible), suffering…
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Inquiring & Exploring
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Download file to see previous pages In light of the above, there are many who have seen utilitarianism as the solution to man’s moral and ethical problems. Sidgwick postulates that utilitarianism remains the best solution to many ethical and moral puzzles since it merely seeks happiness and fairness for the greatest number of people. Sidgwick continues that this has always been an important consideration in the discharging of civil responsibilities by the government, the individual and many other major powers. The crux of the matter herein is that utilitarianism addresses happiness and fairness, in lieu of morals and ethics. Because of this, utilitarianism is passed on as being more pragmatic and therefore, suitable for the discharging of public, civil and personal obligations. The fact that ethics and morality are too relative (being specific to ethno-linguistic groupings) to be absorbed in the operations of the government and other major powers underscores this argument (Sidgwick, 256). Conversely, Sidgwick waxes polemical in favor of utilitarianism, on the account that utilitarianism takes consequences of all actions into consideration, and this consideration is essential in setting up and maintaining a civilized society. If a people would be bereft of the awareness of the consequences of crime, then there would be an absence of deterrence to crime. Herein, the accusation that utilitarianism is silent on moral and ethical issues is conclusively addressed, since the consequences of all actions are considered and thereby providing the society with deterrence (Sidgwick, 258). Closely related to the argument above, is the observation that utilitarianism does not heavily borrow on controversial and unverifiable metaphysical and theological claims or principles. This makes utilitarianism accessible and practical to all. Likewise, utilitarianism strengthens and promotes democratic approaches to decision making since minorities are not accorded the chance to dominate over the majority (Sidgwick, 259, 260). However, it is still debatable if the reasons presented above would be enough to give utilitarianism the cleanest bill of health. Fundamentally, utilitarianism is aimed at happiness. It is uncertain whether this happiness should be measured according to the quantity of pleasure as Bentham proposed, or according to the quality of happiness which would ensue from an action, as Mill envisioned. The lucidity of the argument that utilitarianism encourages and upholds democracy is also very questionable. This is because, utilitarianism seeks the greatest happiness of the greatest number as the guiding moral principle, meaning that it solely considers the majority. Democracy is not just about the majority having their way, but the interests of the minority also being safeguarded. As a matter of fact, labeling an act as morally right because the greatest number derive happiness from it, is lacking since many a time, history is replete with the whims of the majority being wrong. Galileo Galilei was persecuted by a representation of the majority for stating that the earth was not flat, but round, for instance (Ewing, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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