The people and vice versa, then this

The question that this essay is attempting to
answer is an extremely significant question in the research of how individuals
should derive their moral decisions. This is because if John Stuart Mill is
correct in his belief that actions are morally right when they produce the most
happiness to the greatest number of people and vice versa, then this would
solve a lot of fundamental problems as people would no longer have to make
difficult moral decisions. This is because they will already be answered for them
through working out which decision promotes the most happiness for the greatest
number of people. In this essay I will attempt to justify why I believe that
mill is incorrect in this view through counter arguments such as how making a
few people suffer immensely could be proven moral through Mills standpoint. I
will later come to conclude that Utilitarianism is a very basic moral code
which is distant from human emotions, other than happiness, and that it should
not be used to make important moral decisions due to this.

The Utilitarianism in which Mill describes
seems to be logical as when you think about a moral decision being made this
tends to promote happiness for many people. For example, if somebody decides to
run a marathon and raise money for charity many people involved in this will
feel happiness. The people who donated will feel happiness as they have given
to others, the person who is running the marathon will feel happiness as they
have raised money for a good cause and then the people who receive the money
from the charity will feel happiness as they have been helped. Therefore, a
utilitarian would advocate this action as it is creating a lot more happiness
than if it was not done. Through this example Utilitarianism seems like a
reliable moral code as it has helped come to decision of morality.

However, it could also be argued that
Utilitarianism is not a reliable moral code as it can easily be used to
sanction injustice. One example of this is the use of cheap child labour.
Although this will bring much pain to the few children involved, the happiness
of the individuals getting cheaper products may outweigh the pain of the
children and since Utilitarian’s like Mill focus so intensively on the
aggregate happiness of a situation this would be classed as morally correct. “It is absurd
to demand of such a man, when the sums come in from the utility network which
the projects of others have in part determined, that he should just step aside
from his own project and decision and acknowledge the decision which
utilitarian calculation requires.” (Williams.
A Critique of Utilitarianism p.363) Here Williams emphasizes my point that
it is not right for a moral code to go against somebody’s own beliefs and force
them to agree with something they otherwise wouldn’t, just because the sum of
happiness is greater. People should not have to sacrifice their morals for the
greater good. Even mill himself states that actions are deemed as wrong when
they are ‘punishable’ (utilitarianism,
X:246) or if ‘somebody is to blame’ for the actions (utilitarianism find page) in this scenario I have explained I
believe that these actions are both punishable and there are people to blame
yet, utilitarianism would suggest that it was morally right. This shows that
mill is incorrect as in this case, actions are not right in proportion as they
promote happiness.

The validity of Mills
argument is questionable as he states that actions are right as they promote
happiness, however naturally, humans have emotional bonds with people in their
lives such as family and friends. When emotional attachments are involved in
making a moral decision they will naturally waver our judgements and therefore
our decisions. For an example I will use the famous ‘trolley case’ *phillipa foot*. In this case, there are
five people on one train track and one person on another and there is a person
with a lever who has to decide whether the train should kill the five people or
the one person. In this scenario Utilitarian’s like Mill would say that killing
the one person would be morally right as it would promote the greatest amount
of aggregate happiness. So far this would seem like a logical decision to make,
however, if I added that the one person was the decision makers child and the
five people were old and nearing the end of their lives anyway, though killing
the five would still promote the most pain as the families of the old people
will be sad, most would agree that killing the five old people would be the
morally right thing to do. However, utilitarianism would suggest to kill the
child as utilitarianism expects the decision maker to be impartial about the
people in the scenario. Tim Mulgan emphasises this point as he says that
utilitarianism “fails” as  “it is unreasonable
to expect anyone to be perfectly impartial” (Tim Mulgan – Understanding Utilitarianism P97). This point proves
Mills statement to be wrong as actions can be seen as moral in different
circumstances, regardless of the aggregate happiness. Mills utilitarianism
would only work if people didn’t have emotional attachments but people
naturally do. Thus meaning that Mills utilitarianism cannot work.

Another major problem with
Mills statement is that happiness is a very broad term. Although in his book
Utilitarianism Mill defines happiness as pleasure and the absence of pain (Utilitarianism p???)  many different things can cause different
people pleasure and therefore happiness. This is a criticism to Mills statement
because, as I have said previously, utilitarianism focuses intensively on the
happiness of the aggregate and not on individuals. This is harmful as
utilitarianism ignores individual rights and therefore gives *leeway??*  to ignoring human rights. An example of this
is a group of people may gain pleasure from watching somebody be tortured therefore
watching this brings happiness to the group of people. If this group of people
and one other person were in a room then utilitarianism may suggest that
torturing this one person would be better than not torturing them as in this
scenario when this person is being tortured more happiness is being promoted,
even though this goes against the individuals right of not being tortured. If this
was a moral code in which many people followed and people were indoctrinated to
believe, for example, that one race was inferior to another the pain or even
killing of this race may bring about more happiness than if this race was left
alone thus meaning that utilitarianism would approve of the killing of a whole
race and could be used to support *ridiculous* things such as nazi Germany. Many
situations can show that Utilitarianism can ignore the immense suffering of a
few people for the happiness of a few more people. Even if it was just one more
person being happy than being in serve pain, utilitarianism would suggest this
is a moral situation. Many philosophers are also confused as to how a situation
can be deemed moral even if people are suffering immensely, just because the
aggregate is happy. Nozick highlights this argument in his book ‘Anarchy, State
and utopia’ in which he says “To use a
person (for another’s benefit) does not sufficiently respect and take account
for the fact that he is a separate person” (p.33). This emphasises the fact
that utilitarianism would not work as a moral code as it is very distant from
the realities of the real world and it ignores people’s human rights.

To conclude, this essay has
discussed the reasons why I believe that Mill is incorrect to think that
actions are right in proportion to which they promote happiness as, although in
many situations the decision that produces the most happiness is often the most
moral, I have shown that there are too many flaws in this moral code and thus
too many ways in which it can lead to the wrong decision being made. This essay
has shown reasons why this moral code could not be one in which individuals
base all their moral decisions off due to the flaws. Further research would be
needed to account for these flaws before it could be a reliable moral code to


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