Based on the normative theory that human conduct is either right or wrong based on the end result of the action and whether it produces a favorable or unfavorable result. A utilitarianism philosophy term paper begins by looking at the basic concepts of utilitarianism. Our writers will craft the project to examine whatever you need it to focus on - Kant, John Stuart Mill or even the Great Happiness principle. You tell us what you need!
In it most basic form, utilitarianists argue that man seeks improvement and change by discerning what choice promulgates happiness for the greatest number of people. Explicating this idea further, John Stuart Mill, a pioneer of the utilitarian concept wrote the following:
The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure.
Utilitarianism is a subset of a larger moral philosophy known as consequentialism. Under the framework of consequentialism, the following are applicable:
- Decisions are moral or right if they produce favorable consequences.
- Utilitarianism is based on act consequentialism which is defined as:
...the claim that an act is morally right if and only if that act maximizes the good, that is, if and only if the total amount of good for all minus the total amount of bad is greater than the net amount for any incompatible act available to the agent on that occasion.
- Utilitarianism allows moral decision making if the greatest good is maximized.
While the basic definition of utilitarianism is consequentialist in nature, scholars argue that the approach is labeled as such because of what it diametrically opposes: the deontological ideology. "It denies that moral rightness depends directly on anything other than consequences, such as whether the agent promised in the past to do the act now". As such, any prior promises by the agent to follow through from an act are negated in the presence of maximizing the greater good through the decision making process. In this context, it becomes clear that the sole focus of the utilitarian perspective is to create the most aggregate good in the process of decision making.
Although the principle of utilitarianism is one that has been widely embraced by scholars, formidable criticisms of this paradigm have been made. One of the most notable criticisms of utilitarianism is the overall scope of the paradigm. Critics contend that the goal of utilitarianism is to create the greatest happiness. Happiness for one individual or society may be notably different than happiness for another individual or society. In this context, greatest happiness can be achieved by making the decision that makes the most number of people happy, even if it is wrong.
To illustrate this point consider the following scenario. Most of the individuals living in a society argue that it is right to lynch individuals who are Christian, even if these individuals commit no discernible crime. Therefore, one could argue that killing Christians creates the most happiness. Under the utilitarian perspective then, the act of killing Christians would be deemed morally correct. While one may argue that this argument is absurd, one only needs to consider what occurred in the post-bellum South during the period of Jim Crow laws. Even though killing former slaves for minor infractions is clearly morally wrong, many Southern states and policymakers condoned this position because it created the most aggregate happiness among white Southerners.
Utilizing this principle alone in your research paper, one could effectively argue that allowing a convicted pedophile to go free with a sentence of limited incarceration and consensual castration is fair. The individual has served his time and is now unable to act on his pedophilic motivations. Castration has ensured that this individual will not harm society any further. Additionally, keeping him incarcerated not only costs taxpayers money, but it also deprives society of an individual capable of a productive existence. Thus, in the best interests of what is best, it seems reasonable to release the individual back into society to live his life in peace.
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