Happiness and Utilitarianism

Topics: John Stuart Mill, Happiness, Ethics Pages: 5 (1883 words) Published: May 8, 2013
Dark Side of Utilitarianism
According to Bentham, an English moral philosopher and legal reformer, the highest principle of morality is to maximize happiness, the overall balance of pleasure over pain. This principle explains the Utilitarianism doctrine that is mostly the solution of everyone in every century. Utilitarianism can bring the most benefit for people. In contrast, throughout the three stories “Justice” by John Stuart Mill, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, and “The One who Walks Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guinn, it is easy to see that utilitarianism mostly requires sacrifice that indirectly leads to dehumanization and repression of the individual voice. In the book “Justice”, the famous English Philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) mentions about Bentham’s Utilitarianism theory. Bentham believes that “the highest principle of morality is to maximize happiness, the overall balance of pleasure over pain” (Mill, 34). However, Mill wisely demonstrates several situations that are solved based on the utilitarianism theory which leads to sacrifice and dehumanization. One of Mill’s most effective examples is the lifeboat. The four English sailors and a cabin boy were stranded at sea in a small lifeboat in the South Atlantic after their ship has gone in a storm. The five people stayed bravely on the boat for 18 days without food and water, but then the four other sailors killed and ate the cabin boy who was being sick on the 19th day in order to survive. On the 24th day, they got rescued and were arrested. Applying the Utilitarianism theory, killing one person to save the other four people is the only option they have that can maximize the happiness with the least lost. On the other hand, the cabin boy was forced to sacrifice his life in this situation. He did not choose to die neither the four sailors did not have his assent to kill him. He was forced to sacrifice his own life to save the sailors and was eaten cruelly. The sacrifice of the cabin boy also brings out the dehumanization and the regression of the individual in this situation. The four sailors selfishly repressed the boy’s option and together killed him. The boy, of course, was sick and not strong enough to fight back the majority. Furthermore, under any circumstance, the sailors dehumanized the cabin boy because they killed to eat him like an animal. Utilitarianism seems very logical in order to maximize the happiness for everyone. Yet, human life is not appropriated to use in measuring the cost or benefit in some situation. Like in this example, utilitarianism leads negative sacrifice, dehumanization, and the repression of individual voice.

It is very clear to see that the four sailors dehumanized the cabin boy because they are the majority. The story happens in just a very small amount of people. In the novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, the minority is a group of clones that sacrifice their happiness while being dehumanized and repressed by the whole society. The novel is about the whole groups of students who are isolated from society. These students don’t have parents; their friends are also their relatives because they all grow up together in the school named Hailsham. The three main characters in the story is Kathy, the narrator, and her two best friends Tommy and Ruth. Since, Tommy and Kathy start to like each other, Ruth steps in the relationship and date Tommy because she doesn’t want to be alone. However, the three kids keep building up a strong friendship as well as the true love of Tommy and Kathy. The students are known that they are clones when they are eighteen. Their only purpose in life is to donate their vital organs for their “possible”. This can see as utilitarianism because this small group of clones will sacrifice their lives to save the majority of human in society. Although on clones can save some more human lives, this sacrifice is the same as dehumanization. People don’t treat them as human. People create...
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