Utilitarianism And Cost Benefit Analysis

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Reflected in many of the most important policy decisions of today is the philosophy of Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is the moral idea that “what is right (or a duty) is whatever maximizes the total amount of net utility.” Utilitarianism, at the time of its introduction, was a revolutionary moral philosophy. This is because utilitarianism underscores the idea that the consequences of a person’s actions are the most morally significant. So it is not the agent’s well-being that is morally significant, but instead the maximum well-being of others In terms of public policy, politicians often use utilitarianism in the form of “cost-benefit analysis” in order to make decisions. Cost-benefit analysis uses utility to “approximate the principle that…show more content…
The same criticisms extend to Utilitarianism. First, there have been many questions as to who/what utilitarianism should apply. Bentham and Mill, the two main originators of utilitarianism, would say that it applies to all beings that feel “pleasure and pain” so essentially, “sentient creatures,” which would include animals. However, as is very evident from the general negligence American policy has towards the natural world, this component of utilitarianism is often not prevalent. There are also criticisms of justice and fairness with utilitarianism. Although utilitarian-guided decisions are supposed to create the greatest amount of happiness possible, there will always be negative consequences of every action. So, who is forced to endure these consequences? Often, the bad consequences are more heavily distributed to those who do not have a voice for themselves, specifically in terms of public policy. These can be both marginalized people, who often bear the brunt of pressing environmental issues, or the environment itself. Lastly, in terms of the cost-benefit model, “cost and benefit” ultimately refers to what harms humanity. Thus, it does not take into account the other beings, but is still used as a way to assess environmental policy. The inadequate nature of utilitarianism as a means to create effective…show more content…
Many lower income areas are forced to endure harsh environmental conditions unjustly. This issue is extremely prevalent in the Bronx. Despite the fact that the EPA has a division dedicated to working with environmental justice issues, it is mostly the work of local non-profits that are improving conditions. In the Bronx, The Bronx River Alliance is extremely active in attempting to improve quality of The Bronx River. The Bronx River, for many years, was considered a dumping group for all different type of waste. The once pristine ecosystem, is now, in some areas, toxic. According to an article from NY City Lens, in 2014 The Bronx River Alliance found remnants of human sewage in the water. While there have been some efforts to clean up the river on a state and national level, according to this article “Bronx communities have received the fewest resources to restore their section of the river.” This lack of resources can be traced back to the utilitarian ways of thinking. Those in government may believe resources are better spent in wealthier areas, where the potential of financial return is greater. Even though the Bronx River is suffering immensely, from a certain standpoint, allocating money other places creates the greatest amount of happiness overall. However, the people of The Bronx are forced to deal with these consequences. Furthermore, incidences of environmental

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