Repeatedly, the decision on what is right or wrong remains to be an unsolved puzzle
among most people in the world today. According to Alan's notes on Utilitarianism, a significant
percentage of people lay their line of thought on an emotional basis to have a stand on ethics.
Concerning emotional perspective, the utilitarian theory of ethics justifies an action to be morally
okay if its repercussions result to maximizing happiness or pleasure to the majority in society,
and the vice versa is also true since an action is ethically wrong if it deprives happiness from the
majority. Making it more of a democratic theory since the acceptance of ethics to be right or
wrong solemnly relies on the power of the majority. However, despite democracy being a
positive rule in society, Utilitarianism carries with it some shortcomings.
Argument for Utilitarianism.
The most peculiar benefit of Utilitarianism is promoting generosity. From Alan's
examples, if an individual carries a delicious cake with them, they have a decision to share the
cake with friends or not. If well analyzed, sharing the cake would result in pleasure among
friends since the majority enjoy having the feeling of a sweet tooth, making the decision a right
thing to do. Consequently, to ensure the friends have attained pleasure, one has to fulfil the
utilitarianism theory by sharing the cake. Hence, observing the theory of Utilitarianism, one
naturally becomes a generous person, thus promoting generosity among people.
Arguments against Utilitarianism.
One of the most significant shortcomings of Utilitarianism is creating an unrealistic life
perspective. As stated earlier, the solemn objective of the theory is to classify an action to be
right if it ensures majority happiness. Waller argues, in some situations, one has to downplay this
ruling of ethics to secure ones wellbeing. Having a good example in the medical field, one can
sacrifice their life to share their organs such as kidneys with two people in dire need for survival.
By sacrificing one’s life will have benefited two people and granted them another chance to live,
thus achieving majority happiness. However, in a realistic view, it is quite hard. Hence,
according to Utilitarianism, denying helping the two people in need by sacrificing one’s life
would be ethically wrong. Thus making it an unrealistic method to judge what is ethically right
Moreover, Utilitarianism does not consider that happiness is subjective. Logically, It is
not everything that makes one person happy would make another person happy; everyone has
their taste of what excites them (Waller). One can assume since surprise parties excite a majority
let them arrange a surprise party for their best friend. Only to get a huge shock that the idea
irritates their friend since they have a different personality. Hence, despite surprise parties
causing happiness to a majority, it does not make it right for their friend, thus disregarding
Utilitarianism as a perfect method of deciding what is right or wrong.
As much as happiness for the majority is a vital element in positive living, there are more
other substantial factors to consider when deciding whether an action is right or wrong, to reduce
the chances of shortcomings. Hence, ruling out the option of using Utilitarianism as a suitable
means to judge ethics.
Waller, Bruce N. Consider Ethics: Theory, Readings, and Contemporary Issues. Prentice