Utilitarianism is fundamentally driven by the principle of utility i.e. that action is morally right which produces the best overall consequences with regard to the utility or welfare of all the affected parties. Utilitarian theories propound “greatest happiness of the greatest number”. It suggests that the only reason for performing action X over alternative action Y is that doing X will make
mankind happier than doing Y. Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), John Stuart Mill (1806–73), and Henry Sidgwick (1838– 1900) are some utilitarianism theorists.
• In some situations, Utilitarian theories might require us to do morally problematic or doubtful things in order to bring about a good result. For instance:
o If a judge can prevent riots that will cause many deaths only by convicting an innocent person of a crime, utilitarianism implies that the judge should convict and punish the innocent person.
o If a doctor can save five people from death by killing one healthy person and using that person’s organs for life-saving transplants, then utilitarianism implies that the doctor should kill the one person to save five.
• In a utilitarian society, people’s behaviour would lack the kind of predictability and consistency that is required to sustain trust and social stability. For instance, in the previous examples, if judges and doctors can do anything to maximize well-being, then no one will be able to trust that judges will act according to the law or that doctors will not use the organs of one patient to benefit others.
• By propounding happiness of the maximum number, Utilitarianism overlooks the interests / needs / happiness of the groups that are numerically inferior. E.g. Restrictions on consumption of beef to appeal to majoritarian voices, is inconsiderate to the dietary preferences of minority.
• Happiness in many cases cannot be quantified as is not measurable thus it is often very difficult to apply the test of happiness.

• Predicting consequences is impossible that utilitarianism requires because consequences are inherently unknowable. For example, people celebrate extra-judicial killings, however, it disregards due process of law and may lead to lawlessness.
Thus, there are various concerns associated with utilitarian ethics and it cannot be the sole guiding light for human actions, societal goals and government’s programmes


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