Evaluating Utilitarianism

Some strengths and weaknesses of utilitarianism.

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  • Created by: Hannah
  • Created on: 29-04-12 11:55


  • It is reasonable to link morality with the pursuit of happiness and the avoidance of pain and misery.
  • Utilitarianism offers democratic morality that promotes general happiness and opposes individual pursuits.
  • It's consequentialism is a strength, as when we act it is natural to weigh up the consequences
  • It is straight forward and based on the single principle of minimising pain and maximising happiness
  • The idea of promoting the 'well being' of the greatest number is important.
  • It's a common sense system that doesn't require special wisdom.
  • It is natural to consider the consequences of our actions when deciding what to do.
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  • It fails to consider different views on what happiness is.
  • The problem of justice: utilitarianism doesn't set out how that pleasure is distributed.
  • It seems to ignore the importance of duty. An act may be right of wrong for reasons other than the amount of pain or pleasure produced.
  • It is difficult to quanitfy pleasure.
  • It could be classed as impersonal as it does not consider the rights of individuals in its attempt to look to 'the greater good'.
  • The emphasis on pleasure and happiness may cause problems as if I seek my own happiness it is impossible for me to seek general happiness and do what I ought to.
  • It relies on knowledge of consequences, but these may not be known until years into the future.
  • Some pain is good for us and some pleasures may be bad.
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