Evaluating Act Utilitarianism


  • it aligns with the principles of democracy and egalitarianism in which each person is counted for equally
  • it is a secular system meaning that any inconsistencies between religions are eliminated


  • it is subject to the tyranny of the majority and thus can justify any type of action, including crime against an ignored or vilified minority
  • the Hedonic Calculus is impractical and time-consuming to constantly implement in life
  • the future and the consequences of an action are impossible to predict, so calculations are always liable to error
  • happiness is subjective and cannot be quantified
  • it fails to recognise other motivations that might guide human actions but instead reduces us to animalistic needs of only pleasure and pain
  • there is no distinction made between higher and lower pleasures and it regards all pleasures, whether spiritual, intellectual or carnal of the same quality; Mill calls it a swine ethic
  • it ignores our special obligations towards those we feel a greater duty towards e.g. family
  • G.E. Moore with his open question argument argues that Bentham commits the naturalistic fallacy


Perhaps utilitarianism might be a useful theory to apply on a macro level rather than a micro level (i.e., for society to consider rather than an individual).


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