Sartre's Theory Of Utilitarianism

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Sartre, an existentialist philosopher from the twentieth century, claims that humans create their own meaning in life by means of their free choices. He supports this claim with the assumption that a God does not exist. John Stuart Mill, an earlier philosopher, was a proponent of the idea of utilitarianism; the idea that human beings should work to maximize overall happiness and wellbeing. In this paper, I will discuss these two theories and how their combination can potentially create a satisfactory moral theory. Central to Sartre’s idea of humans creating their own meaning by free choice is his assumption of the non-existence of God, one which was popular after World War II. He argues that without God, existence precedes essence. As there…show more content…
As an example, let’s say that there is a serial killer who is fully cognizant of his actions, and knows that he receives great pleasure from killing people. He also feels that the act of killing gives his life meaning. As awful as that may sound, in the absence of a God or objective morality, who is to say otherwise? It would be logically flawed, under Sartre’s view, to say that the serial killer’s life does not have meaning if it is not provided through other means.
To solve the problem of the satisfied serial killer, I will first introduce John Stuart Mill. Mill was a British philosopher in the nineteenth century who supported the philosophy of Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism, in essence, is the idea that the most moral thing a person can do is carry out actions that cause happiness for the most people. The idea implies that an action causing the removal of an individual’s happiness is required to increase the happiness of a larger group of people. For example, a utilitarian would generally see the killing of a terrorist as morally just, because even though the act of killing a single person is usually not condoned, it is morally justified to kill one person in order to prevent harm to
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The criticism states that it is sometimes impractical to calculate the effect a person’s decisions can have on others, whether that is due to a larger amount of people involved or the complexity of the scenario in general. However, this criticism does not state why effort should be put in to maximize utility, regardless of how difficult the scenario may seem. The theory also does not state that a person must be successful in calculating utility; only that the attempt is
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