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The article "A Critique of Utilitarianism" whose author is William Bernard has been considered as being a definitive work that rejects the principle of utility. In this article, William argues that the principle of utility concerns mainly on the consequences and are far much “indifferent to indifferent to the personal integrity of a person, something that is formed by their deepest held moral principles” (White, 2011). When somebody is pressurized to reject his conscience, and compels him to undertake lesser evils, the principle of utility requires individuals to take no notice of their integrity. Hence according to him, it should be disregarded.
It has been so much difficult to get William’s point without making clear charges about his argument against utility and the reason as to why such arguments are effective. In getting the best conception ever for the allegations made, individuals need to posses a very firm grasp of the principle’s stand, in order to successfully connect criticisms made by William against the theory. To start with, this essay defines utility principle, then a presents the extent of integrity failure in utility principle of William’s objection on the ground of integrity and the utilitarian response.
This principle is amoral theory that has been attributed to Jeremy Bentham along with Stuart Mill. The principle of utility explains that practices, behaviours and actions are considered right provided that they provides happiness or pleasure, while these considered wrong are these that promotes unhappiness. As a matter of fact then, utility is a principle that is teleological. This in another way brings out the fundamental issues concerning hedonism. According to the hedonists believe that, for life to be considered good, it should mainly in pursuit and the experience of either pleasure or pleasure. Both pleasure and pain feelings are both biological and involves peoples’ central nervous systems, which are controlled by individuals’ cerebral cortex. It is oblivious that, individuals experience pleasure and when they undertake certain practices that end up fulfilling biological responsibilities like eating, drinking as well as having sex. They also experience pleasure they are performing some of the intellectual practices, like for instance reading philosophical books, playing guitar, as well as drawing some pictures. Though not always, a times individuals experience pleasure when doing some right at the right time.
This principle has been placed to being the core idea of utilitarianism and at first; it was developed first by a guy by the Jeremy Bentham. The principle in addition does not only deal with morality criterion, but also acts as a foundation for making assessments upon as well as for the justification of political obligations to the state. This principle was claimed by Bentham that, it is the secular root of any legal system. Under this, he claims that, utility should be taken as a test of what kind of laws ought to be put in place.
In his essay Bentham showed his notion of utility by saying that, in one way or the other, individuals have been placed by nature under governance of two main masters, which he named as being pain and happiness. It is only for these two masters that 3what individuals need to undertake and what they ought not to. He moves on explaining that, futility in itself is the magnificent decision maker for all behaviours and practices. This means that, it decides what is right and what is wrong.
In conjunction with Bentham, Stuart expanded this notion, moving it into a more developed one, in the development of his theory while writing his book by the name Utilitarian. In this book he explains the responsibility of pleasure along with pain. He also showed how the two aspects form the nucleus of utilitarian ethical theory. He stated that “The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (Mill, 1871). As an effect, the utility principle was presented as being the main foundation of morality by Stuart.
On many grounds, this principle has been challenged by many philosophers. Some of the areas that have made the principle to be criticized include its reiteration on consequences other than looking at the intention, when evaluating different actions and practices. Other issue is that, the theory of good as compared to the theory of being right, its indifferences to the happiness distribution, last but not least, the difficulty in encountered when making happiness measurement as well as aggregation of happiness and pleasure. There have been other versions of this principle that have ended up replacing happiness with other goods, for instance the satisfaction of wants.
The principle articulates individuals to keep off the pitfall attempts of maximizing the two independent variables. It brings both pain and pleasure to create the so called hedonistic utility. This utility referred to as hedonistic sis just a difference of subtracting the pain amount that an action might produce for the world, from the pleasure amount that that same action might produce for the entire world. . Another thing is that, the principle absorbs the “ties at the top” fact. This is based on the reason that, it does not require a single option that tends to have the highest hedonic utility. This case of “ties at the top” happens when at least two options tend to posses equal utility without any other option having higher hedonic utility as compared to the two.
Lots of utilitarian hold a belief that, pleasure and pain are both objective states are can be quantified. There are hedonistic terminologies like “intensity, duration, fecundity, and likelihood, imply that pleasure can be measured quantitatively, perhaps on a scale from 1-10, as part of a hedonistic calculus” (White, 2011).
Failing Of Utilitarianism
After looking at what really utility principle is all about, I see the failing of this ethical reasoning style. In the attempt of reconciling ethical behaviours, with my own feelings, along with emotional replies to moral issues, any kind of ethical principle that does not concur with this concept seems to be failing. With this, I mean that, utilitarianism only takes into consideration only a few feelings and thoughts that depict the world the way it really exists, starting with the manner in which it looks like, to the manner in which individuals undertake their lives. With this, I don’t imply that utilitarianism does not take them into account at all, but it needs individuals to award them special attention. This is because; going with utilitarianism, and individual might in some situations be forced to change their actions against their own feelings due to other individuals feelings. As an effect, it does not consider someone’s integrity.
It is just the issue of integrity, the matter that individuals are just responsible for the things that they cause indirectly, or even fail to avert for the issues individuals cause directly, that at the end makes some one held in hostage. As a matter of maintain integrity, that gives someone the responsibility of ensuring that individuals’ hands are not in any way involved fin the performance of acts which are considered bad.
Integrity plays a major role in the failure of utilitarianism; however, I have not clearly known the exact integrity that utilitarianism has failed. There are those who have understood it in the classic sense of “Wholeness” or a sense of unified self. According to this school of thought, it means that, some of the moral feelings function as constraints or even “limitations on what an acceptable moral theory can demand. They are not to be simply disregarded on such a view” (Ashford, 2000). They create a “moral self-conception,” which, for instance Ashford suggests, is what is preserved by maintaining your integrity”. On the other hand, individuals need not to confuse when interpreting moral self conception, as just a self conception coherently, that just occurs to involve moral feelings. Such like feelings ought not to be as an effect of the agent that in a serious way is being deceived or detached from the reality. But it has to be rooted in individuals to live morally decent kind of life. To maintain such integrity, individuals have to abide their moral commitments, which have to stem from moral responsibilities individuals have in their real life. This form of integrity seems to be the one degraded by utilitarianism.
As a matter of fact, utilitarianism needs that individuals need to refrain from awarding any special weight on their own individual tasks mainly because they are theirs. Going with utilitarian theory, if one feels very bad to shot others, while the other one feels part when taking part in chemical and biological weapons research, then acting favourably towards such like negative feelings and refusal to take an action, amounts to self indulgent squeamishness. Though there might be benefits after the two individuals’ abstinence from these actions to the public and to the individual, utilitarianism asks them to abstain from their feelings and plans in a plethora of cases. This issue of demanding is contradictory, because, people are just their feelings and such feelings make them who they are. Every body has his or her on plans as well as commitments that they desire to pursue in life. Such like plans are much integral to who they are. This is not the same as saying “that the numerical superiority of the opposition should not be the determining element of whether certain acts are morally permissible or not” (Mill, 1871). In this matter, it is verify significant to concentrate on the importance of the person in question following through with their commitments, the failure to undertake that, the potentiality of being injured. In case of shooting and killing, utilitarian will advice to stop. Denying such plans are just moral feelings that an individual has spent the entire life constructing. The point of denying is the one that is much vital to becoming a morally upright individual. This is person’s integrity. In my view, living in a manner that is in line with your moral integrity is much expensive to lose.
To add the point above, it is the desire of the utilitarian to ignore such a commitment just to benefit the hedonic calculus to may end up robbing the negotiator of a life that is far much flourishing. In trying to illustrate this point, look at a scenario involving an agent that is considering three possible options for his life that lies before him. The first option is a kind of life with a very great career as well as personal relations, but to charity, she gives nothing. The second kind of life entails provision of a reasonable amount to charity organization but still living individual life that can be considered as being moderately pleasurable. Last but not least, another option is living mother Teresa’s kind of life, dedicating the entire time he has to those suffering, in this life, he opts never to think about himself, or even what his needs are. Considering such like options, we can conclude that, the last option ensures the greatest happiness or pleasure win the world], hence opted by Utilitarian for moral worthwhile kind of life. In my views, this is self sacrifice, as well as one’s personal needs along with commitments that bring injuries to the protagonist, which is far much unnecessary.
The Response to Integrity Argument
Against the arguments made, however, it is unclear if utilitarianism demands individuals to follow what the majority are doing. There are lots of instances under which an effective utilitarian finds himself in a practice that favours the minority group. This is particularly in circumstances where the practice will after some time be of much help to the world at large. On the other hand, though Utilitarian hold a belief that individual scarifies are very vital in the process of serving the majority, but it does not mainly demand the pleasure enjoyed by the protagonist, in its place, it means that anyone’s life that is within the protagonist range be improved to the highest degree, regardless of the benefit or no benefit enjoyed by the protagonist.
This form of integrity is the core guiding point of morality for the failing of utilitarianism, as it makes individuals to ignore it. This is why to some extent Utilitarianism is failing. I claim that Utilitarian can be seen in an angle of being an incomplete theory that discusses how actual practices of morality have to be undertaken; this is based on the fact that, it has no firm foundation to hold it. For instance, it does not consider the alleged moral nuisance that is linked to someone to force another person by force. In the same view, I reiterate that, it is not good to be held responsible for the practices other individuals. In the same line, someone’s should not be taken over by moral responsibility that other individuals are making. On the other hand, utilitarian “entails that there is no limit to the harm we are permitted to cause in efforts to stave off worse things that others threaten to do ” (Williams, 1985).
The issue of integrity relates to the question of whether Utilitarian demands more than needed. By demanding individuals to leave their self conception morality, strips individuals from their humanity along with identity. Though William might have been much poetic when he was reflecting utilitarian in that manner, because, it is not easy to think that what accepted by an individual as being a moral norm is much significant to ones identity in some literal way. There have been several instances involving individuals shading the entire set of beliefs, and arguably continues being the same person. “It is even more troublesome, however, to believe that what makes you moral or immoral is adherence to a set of feelings” (White, 2011). In his argument, William does not in anyway doubt where an individual gets such sorts of moral belief, what he does, is just suggesting that, they are very significant as they were constructed d]over someone’s life time. This in one way or the other mean that, those who grew din a pro-Nazi set up or even as a racist slave owner, have to struggle very much, cause they can’t be swayed by the lives, as well as pleas of any other human being, cause they fear that, this will end up tainting their integrity.
In his arguments, William does not explain how integrity would demand someone to behave in a manner that will be beneficial to others who in one way or the other are looked upon as being in an a condition that can de described as emergency. If the likes of William holds a believe that, this kind of responsibility is rue no matter the condition like the geographical distance between the two individuals, then provided with modern kind of technology, then it has to imply that, the integrity of an individual should run the risk of being tainted by the people’s constant state of emergencies globally. If in this account of responsibility the likes of William are correct, then it implies that that they are inconsistent with their criticism of Utilitarianism. This is based on the fact that, they appear to be at one time demanding that an individual need to set aside his individualistic plans, while on the other hand, they are demanding commitments to act on behalf of others in the name of integrity preservation.
Both the Nazi a long with the philanthropists might end up differing on the involvement of their moral feelings, however, the sensation of such moral feelings might even be identical. In any way, William was not suggesting how individuals might be in a position of discriminating the real moral feeling, from the misguided moral feelings. They are the norms of the society that ends up determining many individuals moral self conception. As an effect this ends up becoming part and parcel of their personal integrity, as William formulated. In most cases, individuals don require that the owners of slaves, as well as the Nazi Issue, “their moral feelings about these beliefs and, hopefully, be guided away from them. An appeal for them to remain true to their integrity, lifelong projects, or moral self conceptions would only drive them deeper into their harmful beliefs” (Williams, 1985). Utilitarian makes them to ask this and run in a manner that is coronary to the feelings of what their morality is, am not sure but, this will be more of a benefit as compared to a blemish. Though Utilitarian might claim that, most of the moral feelings are of dubious origin, and there are lots of doubts that in real sense are the out come of any form of intuitive and truthful grasp of what ought to be morally right and what ought not to be. They are at least reliable in matters concerning morality.
The principle of utility in which can also be referred to as the greatest happiness principle has been depicted in a manner that it forms the cornerstone of deciding what ought to be done, and what should not be done. This is due to the reason that, it is the main pillar in the construction of Utilitarian theory. As a matter of fact, it states that, an action is morally correct, if at that particular moment there is no any other action that has the capability of producing the greatest balance of pleasure against pain, as compared to the action.
It is due to such definition, that to some extend utilitarianism was seen by William Bernard as a theory that ignores the importance of personal integrity. According to my point of view, ignoring integrity, fails utilitarianism to a certain extent, with this, I mean that, utilitarianism only takes into consideration only a few feelings and thoughts that depict the world the way it really exists, starting with the manner in which it looks like, to the manner in which individuals undertake their lives. However, Bernard William’s arguments that the utilitarian principle is wrong because it fails to regard personal integrity as important factor in decision making, is not a sufficient reason for the rejection of utilitarianism.