Principles of Utilitarianism Essay (Critical Writing)

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Descriptive Analysis

The main principle of utility consists in achieving pleasure from life and avoiding pain and suffering. Pain and pleasure are the only instruments that allow a people to define what they should do, as well as govern their actions.

These two principles serve as the measurement of right and wrong, as well as the identifiers of cause-and-effect chain (Bentham 457). At this point, the utilitarian theory is also associated with the tools that can provide individuals and community with happiness through recognition of felicity as the foundation of all human actions.

The main purpose of utilitarian theory also lies in either increasing or reducing the happiness of an individual at issue. In the majority of cases, the theory acknowledges the community’s interest as the major purpose. Pleasure can be presented to greater or lesser degree in terms of its intensity, duration, remoteness, and happiness.

According to Mill, “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (461). The theorist identifies happiness with pleasure and freedom from pain. Pleasures can originate from broader contexts in terms of both quality and quantity. Additionally, it is suggested that utilitarianism correlates with the natural sense deriving from people’s social nature.

Consequently, in case society embraces the principles of utility from an ethical perspective, people can internalize these rules as a foundation for morale. The only thing that people desire is happiness and, therefore, it should build the basis of morale and ethics. All objects and processes in which people are involved serve as means for achieving happiness and pleasure. Finally, utility also focuses on sense of justice that endows people with the right to happiness.

To attain happiness and pleasure, a human should cultivate only noble character traits that will contribute to his/her intellectual and cultural growth.

The theorists insist that utilitarianism imposes sanctions similar to other moral systems. The sanctions can imply both internal and external dimensions. External sanctions are availably to the human agent from beyond, such as the divine pleasure, or the society’s approval or disapproval. Internal sanctions are composed of feelings creating discomfort when human’s actions oppose the internal duty.

At this point, both sanctions control the development of right standards for achieving pleasure and happiness. Finally, it is also argued that the morality and ethics of actions should be justified as soon as they are directed at achieving happiness. However, to prove that happiness is morally justified, it is necessary to demonstrate that individuals never strive to achieve anything except for happiness. Additionally, people indeed desire such things as virtue that is closely associated with happiness.


The articles expand on the discussion and evaluation of pleasure and happiness. Specifically, the theorists argue that happiness premises on higher faculties and, therefore, should be highly appraised. The meaning of happiness should be expanded to various forms of pleasure. In this respect, a possible objection to the principle of utility arises in terms of the major components of happiness. Utilitarianism also insists that happiness is composed of many experiences and virtues that people appraise.

From an individual perspective, the main controversy concerns the idea that human desire constitutes the only motivation for actions. Nevertheless, the rightfulness of action is often measured by subjective evaluation of an individual and the surrounding people. However, such a perspective contradicts the theory of justice that refers directly to the discussion of rights.

According to the principle of utility, the right implies that a person has a reason for the community to protect him/her against violations. The centre of debates relies on the criticism of considering the concept of right and justice in the context of utilitarianism. Nevertheless, the rights should be an integral component of utility because violating the rights of other individuals in the community will not contribute to its happiness.

From a social perspective, justice constitutes the basis of utilize because the sense of justice is rooted in human’s actions. A person desire to punish another person for the harmful action he/she committed. Such a decisions stems from the feeling of self-defense, which is also considered as a moral one because lack of protection does not imply happiness and freedom from pain.

Despite the fact that human rights are conceptualized in the principle of utility, there is a big controversy on this issue. Specifically, the rights are not grounded in human nature; rather, they are premised on utility because they are important for sustaining human culture and well-being. At this point, rights are crucial for achieving the greatest happiness, and people must introduce laws and restrictions that can make people observe these rights.

In this respect, the proposed readings provide a profound account and analysis of the main aspects of utilitarianism, as well as how it describes human actions. Additionally, pursuing happiness as the major purpose of human existence is also justified in terms of ethics and morale because they are needed to respect other people’s rights to happiness and pleasure.

Works Cited

Bentham, Jeremy. “Principle of Utility”. Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Eds. John Perry and Michael Bratman. UK: Oxford University Press. 1998. 457-460. Print.

Mill, John Stuart. “Utilitarianism”. Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Eds. John Perry and Michael Bratman. UK: Oxford University Press. 1998. 460-467. Print.

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