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Objections to Utilitarianism

Categories: Utilitarianism

Darwell’s objection to Utilitarianism states that it conflicts with moral common sense in three particular case studies. The first objection to Act Utilitarianism is “promise keeping. ” Act utilitarianism is inconsistent with the moral conscious, because it forward looks considerations of what one would do. The consequences of not keeping the promise may be hard to determine whether it is right or wrong. One example of Darwell’s objection to Utilitarianism of “promise keeping” is keeping promises to the dead.

Suppose you made a promise to your father to carry on the family business when he passes away.

You have inherited your father’s multi-million dollar business after he has died. According to act utilitarian, you can sell the company and donate all of its money to a children’s charity, since your father is dead and his happiness is no longer an issue. You have maximized happiness for many children by breaking your promise to your father and destroying the family business.

But, Rule utilitarianism says to keep the promises you have made.

Rules were made to maximize happiness. The second case study is “the moral asymmetry to harm and benefit. ” Acting as an act utilitarianism, harming one person to benefit two people can be compensated. Suppose there are five homeless men, and it just so happens that a rich man happens to drive by asking for directions. They can kill the rich man and steal all his luxuries, which will maximize happiness for all five of the homeless men.

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All would benefit from one man’s death. Rule Utilitarianism oppose against this sort of action.

Rule utilitarianism would not pass such a rule to kill an innocent man to benefit others. RU dos not want to live in a society that takes from one to give to others, because it can happen to anyone. The third objection to utilitarianism is distributive justice. Act Utilitarianism believes it does not matter how happiness is distributed, as long as it produces the same net total happiness. Though, common sense states that happiness can be distributed justly or unjustly. Rule utilitarianism does not want a rule or distributive justice.

Society looks at how people are treated. Rule Utilitarianism wants equal treatment towards people. In my opinion, I would have to agree with the objections of Darwell’s essay against Utilitarianism. Rule Utilitarianism seems to be much closer to common sense that Act Utilitarianism. Act Utilitarianism does not have a reliable ethical decision system. It does not seem justifiable in believing that under a utilitarian’s condition can satisfy moral theory. Since Act Utilitarianism is not justifiable then it cannot be true.

In order for Act Utilitarianism’s to be justifiable it’s claim would have to be understood, instead of contradicting itself. Rule Utilitarianism follows the rules in the legal system, in which these rules are created to maximize happiness. According to Rule Utilitarianism, if an action is justifiable by others and the general rule is proved to reduce happiness, the rule can be changed or ignored. This shows that Rule Utilitarianism is closer to correct moral theory than Act Utilitarianism.

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Objections to Utilitarianism. (2016, Dec 11). Retrieved from

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