Moral Criticism Of Utilitarianism

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It is due to the intuitive dislike that utilitarianism prompts in the minds of many, that it has been subject to several criticisms. In this essay, I will use both moral intuitions and examples in attempt to outline three of the strongest objections to utilitarianism. I will furthermore attempt to show that such objections render utilitarianism to be unsuccessful. To achieve this it is, however, necessary that I discuss the concept of utilitarianism, as well as how such a theory influences the decisions and actions of moral agents.
Utilitarianism is a moral, consequentialist theory in that it holds that the right action to perform is that which produces the best consequence, namely the greatest amount of utility – otherwise known as wellbeing
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For the reason that Utilitarianism only considers one normative factor, the maximisation of overall happiness, and because it considers all pleasure/happiness to have value, it often conflicts with our common-sense morality and allows for great individual deviation from social norms. It is in this way that Utilitarianism allows for injustice, immoral actions and the violation of human rights. I shall provide an example that demonstrates that in some instances Utilitarianism can be counterintuitive and furthermore give us the morally wrong answer as to which act we ought to perform. The first example involves a surgeon who is faced with the decision of killing one healthy patient, harvesting their organs and transplanting them into five patients who are dying in order to save their lives or doing nothing and allowing the five sick patients to die. Utilitarianism maintains that the surgeon do the act that produces the maximum overall amount of utility, namely, the surgeon must kill the one healthy patient to save the five others. Whilst our intuition and commonsense morality tells us that the surgeon is morally wrong in performing the organ transplants at the cost of an innocent life, Utilitarianism fails to acknowledge that such an act would be wrong on the basis that the surgeon would be violating the Hippocratic oath and inflicting harm as well as violating the healthy patient’s right to life, in order to bring about the greatest overall amount of happiness. In this example, which can be easily modified to counter utilitarian or consequentialist replies, it is clear that Utilitarianism provides the surgeon with the morally wrong answer as to which action he/she should
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