The proponent of utilitarianism is a Greek philosopher called Epicurus. This theory was though given a scientific approach by Jeremy Bentham who argued that mankind is governed by pain and pleasure and from this he came up with the rule of utility. He concluded that the good is that which brings the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people (Newton , 2003) . Utilitarianism is a theory that argues that the moral value of an action is determined only by its outcome. A moral action according to this theory should provide happiness or pleasure as assumed among all sentient beings. This theory is also known as the greatest happiness principle.
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This theory argues that happiness or pleasure is of ultimate importance. This theory gives ethics a quantitative as well as a reductionist approach. Utilitarianism disregards the motive behind an action and focuses only on the end result (Newton , 2003). According to this theory, if a person carries out an activity with a good intention but gets a negative outcome, then the person should be penalized. For instance, a doctor who decides to carry out an operation on a sick person with the intention of saving the person's life should be penalized if the person dies during the operation (Newton , 2003) .
Utilitarianism ethics contrast with deontological ethics. Deontological justification of an action focuses on the motive behind the action as opposed to the action's outcome. Deontological justification does not regard the consequences of an action but rather believes that the moral worth of an action is determined by the intention of the actor. For instance, if a doctor operates a sick person with the intention of saving his/her life and the person dies in the process, then such a doctor cannot be penalized since his motive was good (Newton , 2003) .
There are basically two types of utilitarianism: Act utilitarianism and Rule utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism requires that when one is faced with a choice, he/she should first consider the probable consequences of any potential action and then do what is likely to generate more pleasure. Rule utilitarianism on the other hand requires that one should first look at potential rules action . One should then consider the outcome of following a certain rule so as to determine whether or not to follow such a rule ( Lyons , 1965) . If one realizes that following a certain rule would produce more happiness , then he/she should follow that rule at all times.
The main shortcoming of rule utilitarianism is that it supports general rules which would out rightly reduce pleasure in some specific cases. For instance the rule of not killing human beings is good in principle but makes it very hard for self-defense against malevolent aggressors. Rule utilitarianism proposes general exception rules which allow other rules to be broken if this would increase happiness ( Lyons , 1965) . This has been greatly criticized because it makes rules meaningless .
Rule utilitarianism is further categorized into two: strong rule utilitarianism and weak rule utilitarianism. Strong rule utilitarianism has strict rules that are applicable to all people all the time and should therefore never be broken. Weak rule utilitarianism on the other hand allows breaking of rules under certain circumstances as long as the action produces the greatest happiness(Newton , 2003) . For instance if a Gestapo asks you the whereabouts of your Jewish neighbor s, under strong rule utilitarianism you are supposed to tell the truth because the rule of "do not lie" must never be broken. Under the weak rule utilitarianism though, you should not tell the truth because this would produce the greatest happiness ( Lyons , 1965) .
Rule utilitarianism collapses to act utilitarianism since for any given rule, there are added sub rules that deal with exceptional cases in cases where rule breaking produces more utility. This means that rules eventually end up with as many sub rules as there are exceptional cases hence making a person go for the outcome that produces the maximum utility. Two level utilitarianism requires that people use intuitive moral reasoning in rule utilitarianism form as this maximizes happiness but at the same time think as act utilitarians by reflecting critically so as to decide what to do. This means that one should always use the two types of utilitarianism simultaneously (Newton , 2003) .
Negative utilitarianism advocates for the promotion of the least amount of evil or harm. It simply requires us to avert the highest degree of suffering for the greatest number of people. The proponents of this theory argue that the greatest harms have more consequences than the greatest goods therefore it would be more prudent to prevent them (Newton , 2003) .
Total utilitarianism proposes that the utility of a population should be measured by adding up the utilities of the individual members making up the population. According to this theory therefore, a large number of people with very low but positive utility is better than a small population living in comfort since their total utility would be higher after adding up (Newton , 2003) . Average utility on the other hand proposes that the utility of a population should be measured based on the average utility of that population . This form of utility has been criticized for causing problems such as the mere addition paradox which contradicts common sense. This is because the theory suggests that , to raise the average happiness in a given population, people whose happiness is below average should be eliminated from that population.
It further considers immoral the act of placing a moderately happy person in a very happy population (Newton , 2003) .
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