Utilitarianism and Happiness

Topics: Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill, Ethics Pages: 2 (693 words) Published: May 11, 2011
Utilitarianism, yet another ethical theory between right or wrong.
If everyone acted in an effort to promote the greatest good for the greater number of people our universe would exist with a utilitarian state of mind. Although, when one looks at this statement on the surface without further analyzing it, most would assume that existing in a universe where everyone seeks the happiness for the greatest amount of people that it would be greater one to live in. Although, surface wise we can make this assumption, everyone’s definition of “happiness” varies, for some happiness is defined by monetary objects and for others happiness is not determined through any tangible element.

Utilitarianism was defined by John Stuart Mill who derived the theory based on the hedonistic version presented by his mentor Jeremy Bentham which he described it as “the greatest happiness”. According to Mill the basic principle of utilitarianism is “Actions are right to the degree that they tend to promote the greatest good for the greatest number. The theory of both ethicists can be summarized in three propositions. First, Consequentialism stating that actions are to be judged right or wrong solely by virtue of their consequences; nothing else matters. Second, Hedonism that states in assessing consequences, the only thing that matters is the amount of happiness or unhappiness that is created; everything else is irrelevant. Lastly, the equality principle which states each person’s happiness counts the same, meaning that each unit of happiness has the same value; neither is valued more or less. The most common confusion is that utilitarianism is not based on what the majority wants is right but what brings about the most happiness to the greatest number of people. These three propositions make up the Utilitarianism equation: Utilitarianism = Consequentialism + Hedonism + an Equality Principal. In summary, utilitarianism says that the right action is the one that brings about the...
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