Values and society

by | Jan 11, 2022 | Assignment

Write 6 pages thesis on the topic values and society. Bentham (1789) in talking about the principle of “the greatest happiness” admits it has flaws. Quoting Alexander Wedderburn, Bentham writes, “This principle [the greater happiness principle] is a dangerous one” (Note 1. p.5). Bentham goes on that in “Saying so, he [Wetterburn] said that which, to a certain extent, is strictly true” (Note 1: p.5). Because of his misgivings, it is hard to make further arguments for Utilitarianism since Bentham himself sees problems in its application. He still believes it is a good philosophy, however, and he argues for the principle and that in the end will prove a very beneficial idea to man when all is said and done: “that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question” (Bentham, 1789: 2)The theory calls an action right if it tends to promote happiness and wrong if it tends to produce the opposite of happiness—not just the happiness of the person who performs the action but also the happiness of everyone affected by it. This theory is the opposite of egoism: the idea that a person should pursue his own self-interest, even at the expense of others. We must admit that this does not sound like a good idea for all people and makes Utilitarianism seem like a better idea in general. No one really likes people that only think of themselves. Utilitarianism is also different from ethical theories that say the rightness or wrongness of an act depends upon why the person doing the action is doing it. According to Utilitarians, it is possible for someone to do the right thing for a bad reason. It is an escape clause, as it seems, from criticism of those in power who might pass laws that benefit a majority while secretly helping their own interests along. It is hard to argue from a basic idea against this position, since if everyone is happy why do we have to know or care why they are happy? Why would we care if the powerful people who make the decision care if we are happy, as long as we are? It might be argued from an extrapolated viewpoint if, in making the decision, its negative impacts are well disguised and hidden through deceit and mass manipulation.

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