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Why Utilitarianism Fails as an Ethical Theory

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Why Utilitarianism Fails as an Ethical Theory

Utilitarianism is a topic that sounds like quite a noble, selfless, prosperous ethical system. However, upon further inspection and deeper analysis of this doctrine, I’ve found that there are many flaws associated with the universal application of Exclusive Utilitarianism. The main problems being that it is inevitable to be arbitrary, that it is contrary to human intuition, and that it does not provide the requirement of omniscience .

Utilitarianism’s entire ethical value as a doctrine rests on the assumption that what is for the greater good and what isn’t for the greater good is completely objective. Which is why it is a problem in itself, it is merely an assumption.

A successful ethical theory can never rest upon an assumption. This assumption renders the theory to become inevitably subjected to arbitrariness, meaning that Utilitarianism has no way to objectively determine the nature, importance, and value of consequences. Essentially, what this questions is: How do we know what are “good” and “bad” consequences? What consequences count most? Whose opinion of what are “good” consequences and what are “bad” consequences counts most? All of this is subjective. What I think is best for society and what you think is best for society, may possibly be totally different. For example, I may think that going to a homeless shelter and slaughtering everyone in there will be for the greater good and happiness of the whole of society, while you may believe that providing those people with food and homes would do best for the greater good of society. Though we are not on the same page, we are still technically following Utilitarianism. With knowledge of this, Utilitarianism would ultimately fail.

However, with that point being raised, it poses the question: How can one predict the totality of the potential consequences of one’s actions? In essence; you can’t. To be able to accurately predict the outcome of a decision on a global scale is completely impossible. You would have to consider the global immediate effects, to truly determine whether what you are doing is going to help the greater good (in your eyes) or not. However, not only would you have to take the global immediate effects into account, but the global long term effects as well, which is even more impossible. Nowhere in Utilitarian definition does it say that this ethical theory is limited to just the present.

Rationally, usually it is impossible to realize the true outcome of a situation. Sometimes, decisions that you think are good,



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