A thought investigation
into the strive for equality.
Utilitarianism is a consequentialist philosophy, where motives and actions are disregarded and only the end result is accounted for (Rachels 2009). Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that is based on the idea that the proper course of action is the one that maximises the quantified ‘utility’. Utility is the unit of measurement that to describes the benefit individuals can gain from an action. Utilitarianism argues that the greater the utility, the greater benefit to society. (Racheals 2009). Rachels’ claims that there are three characteristics of Utilitarianism: 1. Only consequences matter
2. Only the happiness of unhappiness of consequences matter 3. Strict impartiality is required in decision making
Classic Utilitarianism, based upon philosophers Bentham and Mill claim that utility should be measured Hedonistically. According to the classical theorists pleasure is the only intrinsic good (Daniels 2013). Later thought leaders have discussed that individual preference satisfaction should be maximised, given that individual experiences shape preferences. To contextualise hedonist utility maximisation, one can imagine a scenario where a global corporation made anti-depressants, however, the factory conditions are poor and their workers are on average, depressed. Every 100 units of anti depressants made cause 100 people to gain pleasure. For every 100 units made, 20 workers become depressed. Therefore, there is a net pleasure increase of 80 individuals. A classical Utilitarian would argue that making those 80 individuals happy is more important than the 20 workers pleasure.
After long deliberation on Classic Utilitarianism, twenty- first century philosophers found classic utilitarianism to be is riddled with flaws, and as such the moral agent should use either 1) Act, or 2) Rule Utilitarianism (Daniels 2013). Rule Utilitarianism holds that one should always follow rules that tend to promote general welfare, even at the expense of greater utility. Act Utilitarianism holds that one should always act as to promote general welfare (Racheals 2009). These developments of utilitarianism make it easier to apply to the individuals own actions, without having to equate others individual motives into the decision-making process.
As a philosophy, Utilitarianism has multiple flaws. I find the least excusable flaw to be the assumption that equality is obtainable. Racheals’ outlines that Utilitarianism requires strict impartiality. According to Utilitarianism, the needs of many are more important than the needs of the individual. A by-product of this core belief is the idea of impartialness in decision making, with the attempt to eliminate subjectivity. It follows that a utilitarian would argue that humans should be equally concerned for each person. My view is that equality cannot exist in the earth we live in for the following reasons: 1. Re-allocation of earths resources is highly implausible 2. Evolution begets that humans naturally want to distinguish themselves from other humans 3. If equality was to occur, individuals would have to spend large amounts of time calculating the added utility to those around them
For a utilitarian to be satisfied, the re-allocation of earth’s scarce resources must be evenly distributed, to maximise overall utility. My view is that the relocation of earths current resources, is an impossible task due two reasons: * The resources taken to re-distribute the resources individuals currently have would be huge, and would therefore be a counter productive exercise. * Worldwide co-operation would have to occur to ensure equality. Which simply could not exist, due to different countries various needs and motives. A reasonable utilitarian could argue that dividing earths resources equally is an extreme measure to ensure utility is maximised. Ones individual utility may not require the same...