This theory advocates that the actions worth is determined by maximizing utility (pleasure or happiness).it looks at the consequence of an action as to whether the outcome is good to the majority of people affected by it. According to Bentham, utilitarianism is the greatest happiness or greatest felicity principle. There are many types of this theory which include act vs. rule, two level, motive, negative and average vs. total. (Clifford G., John C. 2009) In act utilitarianism, when people have to make choices, they should consider the consequences of each choice and then choose that which will generate much pleasure.
The rule utilitarianism looks at the rules of actions which are potential and looks at what would happen if a certain rule is followed and decides on following it if the outcomes are pleasurable. In the two-level utilitarianism, one uses intuition and they maximize the happiness. Motive utilitarianism deals with how people in reality function psychologically. In negative utilitarianism, one acts such that the least evil is promoted.
Total utilitarianism allows the measurement of people’s utility depending on the total utility of those members while average utilitarianism allows measurement of utility of people by the basis of average utility of those people. (David L, 1965)
Utilitarianism gives a very good conception of morality. This theory aims at achieving success and happiness and those who go to war want success and this is calculable in the theory. Utility can be looked at as increasing or decreasing in the world but it is not as easy as to be measured. For example, one can not measure happiness or pleasure of somebody. In war, what is most focused on is the security of the people and the freedom from any form of pain. If happiness is taken as a rule and not an act, we can then give ourselves the basis of measuring utility as per the theory. Peace and security of the people should be measured in the process of war and determined whether the outcome of any action is indeed fruitful. If these two lacks, there will be lack of respect for human right and the economic status will decrease. Utility measurement should not be restricted to a nation or a group but to all mankind. It this theory all actions are assessed depending on the outcome they give at the end. A utilitarian acts in such a way that everything he does is towards achieving an outcome which is good for it to be termed moral. Some wars however do not give good results and this is why a pacifist will not advocate for such.
These include self-defense and those wars that are toward protecting genocides. The consequentiality prohibitions given against war are contingent for most parts. Utilitarianism view of pacifism is grounded in some rule-utilitarianism. A utilitarian pacifist argues that a rule against war or other sorts of violence will tend to promote the greatest happiness for majority of the people involved. Also this prohibition against violence can give greatest happiness and this takes into account the sentient beings happiness other than humans. From history, war produces more harm than what people view as good. There is one problem however for consequentalists as to whether war could cause more suffering that solving the problem. Utilitarian defenders then say that some of these wars increased pain and suffering. If people will go against wars then, happiness will be the ultimate result. In this theory, killing is justified if it will eventually give happiness in the end.
An individual can act the way he wants but should be careful not to harm others. (William H.,1999) Man should develop and exercise his capabilities so as to exist because man is a progressive being. Censorship and paternalism should be rejected so as to achieve knowledge and develop one in their capabilities. This theory agrees with the antiwar pacifist in that the actions of the war sometimes do not favor the outcome of happiness and pleasure as it advocate. Therefore there should be a drive against wars because instead of people solving that problem which had led them into war, they create pain in the same process. (Jeremy B., 1979) However, if by going to war will bring pleasure to the majority involved, then wars should gear themselves towards this goal. This theory of utilitarianism is so convincing on its stand on antiwar pacifist because it argues its stand convincingly leaving those in it satisfied and feeling so moral in the sense that it presents as we have discussed. It clearly puts is stand on what it advocates for and this should not be assumed when it comes to wars. This is the ultimate goal of happiness and pleasure to the people according to Mill. (Mark P., 1991)
Clifford G., John C. Ethical Communication: Five Moral Stances in Human Dialogue.Columbia, MO.: University of Missouri Press, 2009. David L, Forms and Limits of Utilitarianism, 1965.
Jeremy B., An introduction to the principles of morals and legislation, 1789.
Mark P., Moral Philosophy of John Stuart Mill,Longwood Academic 1991. Wakefield, New Hampshire. ISBN 0-89341-681-9. William H. Contemporary Ethics: taking account of utilitarianism. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 1999