Measuring Utility: Must We Abandon Utilitarianism

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Interpretive Psychology

A possible option of measuring utility is through, Interpretive psychological testing.

A psychological study is a theoretical fact we do in our brains to test a philosophical hypothesis. The theoretical fact should be something that could actually happen (and generally it's something that actually happened or will happen later). In order for us to test the hypothesis, it must have an impact on what might be valid if the theoretical fact were real. You could then oppose this suggestion to our own beliefs about psychological testing. If the effects of the hypothesis match our own beliefs, the hypothesis is (in a way) confirmed. If not, you have to ask yourself: 'What's going on: the hypothesis or my beliefs?' (Price 2013).

It is advisable to stick to our beliefs until the evidence is against them. It doesn't matter whether the theoretical fact is likely to occur. In the event that an assumption has wrong effects on something that could happen, the assumption (at least at this point) is incorrect.

The bias and inaccuracy of Psychology

However, the clear problem with this approach, is that it fails to recognize that some people have very evil beliefs. Such individuals may adopt Utilitarianism to commit the most Heinous acts. For example, the ancient Romans used slaves as warriors and forced them to fight casually for fun. Is it an option to get a few people to become warriors and possibly make many people happy? Would it be ethical to pay individuals to fight until the end? President Truman has called for atomic bombs to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, knowing that a large number of non-soldiers are being executed to save more lives by ending the war. In hope that this choice will result in fewer deaths. Was it ethical?

Looking at the accusation that utilitarianism is 'commendable regulation of pork”, Where Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) believed Utilitarianism to be a moral code suitable for swine, whose only purpose is the animalistic pursuit of pleasure (Welch 2006). John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) argued that happiness is an attractive goal and expressed that something is obvious when people can see it and that something is attractive when people want it. People really want joy. I imagine that Mill shows that his form of utilitarianism is not a commendable convention only for swine, but a code of ethics that gives a sense of a decent life (Mill 1863). So when I speak of the allegation, I don't think it can react so mixed. I would say that this allegation against the Bentham hypothesis is not undeserved because it seems silly to develop an ethical code of quality for the idea of ​​physical pleasure. Given this charge against Mills' adapted form, I consider it to be unfounded. What Mill is trying to promote is a code of ethical life where someone acts in what is considered a method of ethical life, however you see it. I see that Mill's composition undoubtedly deserves more than an ethical code suitable for swine.

Result and Discussion

Diminishing Marginal Utility Rule

This principle expresses that in terms of the development of bliss or, as we see it, the satisfaction of a reasonable need, again in essential goods, increasing benefits make individuals increasingly less satisfied. In this sense, a wealthy person receives less satisfaction from any currency than the person concerned than a less affluent person, and any additional wealth addition is less profitable. I accept that the law is instinctively famous. A wealthy person can have ten thousand times as much as a typical and optimistic person. However, let us assume that the above was also ten thousand times happier than the latter, then this would be a far greater difference than wealth could ever provide. We can make endless clarifications as to why the law can apply (Udofia, 2017). Perhaps the most satisfying pleasures are simply more deeply rooted than the increasingly expensive or overarching desires, or maybe the conversion of essential goods into benefits becomes more enthusiastic after a certain point, or perhaps the rich person can run out of time and the opportunity to never use their wealth. Thus, it becomes increasingly difficult to know which action provides the most benefit. Since, people by nature are accustomed to varying pleasures. We do not need to consider the exact motivation behind which law of insignificant benefit reduction is maintained. I accept it as recognized here that the law is valid. The impact of the standard on the problems of the utilitarian government is evident. Whenever it is decided to transfer wealth (ignore the part from which it comes) to a rich or poor person, the rule always prescribes the latter. In this sense, it is supplemented as an engine of justice in the utilitarian state (West, 2019).

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In fact, except a few other powers, we can conclude that it will produce an excellent equivalent state, something in line with communism. But the importance of this rule can hardly be overstated. It only guarantees the impossibility of catastrophic circulation under normal conditions. It provides solid grounds for believing that the utilitarian state would be exceptionally equivalent and, in this capacity, appropriate under our circumstances. However, the rule used as a guide to utilitarian fairness has been carefully analysed. Perhaps the best of them come from John Broome. If we assume that all people share a similar curve of insignificant benefit reduction, the standard could imply an equivalent appropriation. If we assume that individuals vary individually with increasing sensitivity and that some individuals simply have differing curves to others, their personal effects can be the opposite (Broome n.d.). Considering that some people are necessarily qualified to adequately convert the most significant asset growth into benefits and that some people are sad about it, the norm would order the redistribution of the latter to the former, regardless of whether the first was currently more extravagant than the latter. The directive is, therefore, only a correspondent for the situation in which the decrease curves of individuals are generally equivalent, which is certainly not the case (Chandra, 2013). Broome states that “a world can be better for an individual than a second world only if the individual exists in both worlds” (Vallentyne 2009). Clearly, Broome uses ‘world’ as a metaphor for one’s mind and internal well-being. The statement claims, the only way to appreciate how certain actions effect the minds of others is to exist within that individual which, is not possible. And this understanding is far from the benefits that, basic empathy could ever provide. Broome believes this to be the only way to know if you are better off in comparison to others since, the positive or negative effects of a single action is relative. A somewhat more sophisticated metaphor for “walk a mile in my shoes”. Hence, it can be stated that no curve will produce an exact equivalent for the effects of increasing or decreasing benefits on varying individuals. It seems equally as absurd as the ‘happy math’ proposition mentioned earlier, stating, it is possible to calculate welfare based on precise mathematical analysis.

Can we measure Joy?

Returning to our initial research question, how can we measure a quality (joy) that exists in people’s minds? The above theory suggests we cannot. Since, people react varyingly to different pleasures, and the subsequent increase or decrease of said pleasure will cause a range of benefits in varying individuals (Steinberg 2016). Thus, the question must be asked: How can we adopt Utilitarianism since its core definition effects people in different ways? Thus, without carrying out the herculean task of understanding the psyche of every human individual on Earth, it becomes apparent that we can never measure the amount of Joy/welfare in an individual. So although one may devote their life to Utilitarianism, it may not be enough according to utilitarian standards.

How will our actions effect society?

This implication links well to our second research question which is, how can we know the effect one’s action will have on the happiness within a society? The answer seems to be synonymous with our first research question that is, people’s response to actions are relative. But there is also the question of, who decides what is best for a society? We could adopt Rawel’s “rough rule of arm” approach mentioned earlier but in many circumstances, it proves to be insufficient. Many Utilitarian’s state, we must differentiate between the action and the individual thus, separating moral judgement from the act and the person. For example, an individual who saves a drowning child who turns out to be Adolf Hitler, who proceeds to commit mass genocide, cannot be blamed morally, as it is impossible to predict future events. The blame is assigned to the person who commits the evil act (J.J.C. Smart.1973). So in hindsight the person that saved the child did the right thing, morally. However, even if a utilitarian justifies this act, the consequence produced is ultimately devastating. It seems heavily hypocritical to justify an act that produces bad results. Since, at the core of utility is consequentialism. This paradox creates a practical implication, that must be considered. So returning to our initial question, how can we know the effect our actions will have on a society? The above example is one of many, demonstrating that it is almost impossible to know for certain. The domino effect of a single action could potentially be infinite, and along that line of effects, could be disastrous consequences (Springer 2013). So it seems ridiculously optimistic to believe that one can predict correctly, the consequences of one’s actions within a society. The fact that Utilitarianism, at its core is consequentialism, further shows it to be a flawed theory, since consequences are difficult to predict, no matter the circumstance.

Does the end justify the means?

Now let us assume that it is perfectly possible to predict exactly, the effects of every action on every individual thinkable. Also assume, it is possible to quantify levels of Joy in every individual… this for sure, would enhance the efficiency of utility but what still remains, are the ethical implications. Is the belief that “the ends justify the means” an acceptable moral approach? This is the main argument for our final research question. And again, the answer to this question is very subjective since, Utility seems to be of a very similar nature. Bernard Williams (1929-2003) believed Utility to be an alienating moral Theory. Williams argued, in order to adopt Utilitarianism, one would have to inevitably neglect their own personal commitments since, moral agents are overly concerned with producing maximum benefit. Even if it requires the sacrifice of one’s wealth, health or possessions (Haulpti 2013). Williams believes this to be a tiresome expectation and it is unfair to expect this of anyone. An individual can become increasingly miserable from adopting this lifestyle, and this as I’m sure will have negative consequences. It’s safe to say the ends don’t justify the means. In some cases, it may be true to say so. However, as a general rule this statement that rolls off the tongue so easily creates more problems than it solves. Moreover, where do we draw the line with ethical standards? If the sole importance of utility is the consequence then the methods to produce said results, become infinite and infinitely barbaric I might add. Would it be acceptable to kill a quarter of the world’s population, to manage population control and manage the effects of climate change? Is this a moral obligation that you “ought to carry out” (Anescombe 1997) Ultimately this would be better for the Earth and future generations, since fewer people would be polluting the Earth. However, by any ethical standards, killing two billion people is never justifiable. So I ask again, where do we draw the line? Is it acceptable to kill one individual to save the life of ten, but mass genocide is unacceptable? Where along this line of escalating death, should we draw the line. Thus, should we utilize utility only when it suits us or abandon it all together?


The statements introduced in Chapter 4 put an end to this theory. So that what has been argued here can consolidate and unite the psyche of the readers, let us summarize again. I started by describing utilitarianism and presenting some of its strengths that illustrate what makes it an attractive but also deeply flawed form of political thought. I mentioned that it is a mindset that is motivated by observation and suggests use as an objective reason for a realistic theory. It is also a politically compromised line of reasoning that is married to a great bias from the first point of departure. Nevertheless, classic utilitarianism also contains strong totalizing tendencies, which makes it defenceless against destructive reactions. Given these highlights, the variation in utilitarianism created here, practical utilitarianism, requires a much broader political centre that avoids good, broader certainties beyond the political realm. It also accompanies an alternative hypothesis of the good, which characterizes it as satisfying a definite need.

Our research questions as already discussed, show Utilitarianism to be an insufficient moral theory. There is no way to measure Joy in individuals nor is it possible to know the effect our actions will have on a society. Not to mention the ethical implications that utility causes. As simple and sophisticated as it seems, Utilitarianism, causes more harm than benefit. Thus, to produce maximum benefit for ourselves and wider society, we must ironically abandon Utilitarianism.

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Measuring Utility: Must We Abandon Utilitarianism. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from
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