We all love happy endings, some may not, but most people do. Humanity at the current 21 century has reached a peak of population density where none policy or even legislation would fulfill the desires of each individual. However what matter in the eyes of any politician is he did the greatest good for the greatest number of citizens. Such philosophy is known as Utilitarianism. It is a belief that the sole standard of morality is determined by its usefulness.
In the beginning of Utilitarianism, the idea was simple, either pain or pleasure. Mankind have always under the influence of such judgement. It allows us to make the choices to proceed in our life. But, on the other hand, it also determine the standards of right or wrong, the consequences of each action will soon determine the end result. Jeremy Bentham the founder of Utilitarianism believe that this foundation could provide a basis for social, legal, and moral reform in society. Thus, the key to such ethical system is the principle of utility. That is, ” What is the greatest good for the greatest number?”
However, there are a few problems about Utilitarianism. One of it is that it leads to an “end justifies the means” mentality. If any person, especially the rich and the powerful, can justify the means, the true ethical foundation will be lost. In another words, a particular act cannot be judged as good simply because it may lead to a good consequences. But the means must be judged by the main objectives and also maintain the consistent standard of morality. This means, there is always a “core” value in whatever the means needed for justification. For example, Hitler justify the Holocaust because he wanted the greater good, to purify the whole human race. Stalin slaughter millions because he was trying to achieve a communist utopia. What kind of “greater good” means, when the process involve in killing and genocides?
Secondly, Utilitarianism will not be able to protect the rights of minorities, if the goal results in the greatest good for the greatest number. For example, during the 18th century, slavery is so common that the majority of the American population benefited from the slavery consequences.
Lastly, the problem with Utilitarianism is that consequences themselves must be judged. Even though a result may occur, people will still ask whether if they are good or bad result. Utilitarianism doesn’t not prove any objective and consistent foundation to measure a judgement because the mechanism of Utilitarianism is used against itself.
In a conclusion, Utilitarianism cannot always determine a future of a society. It cannot keep up with the immense growth of the current population. The judgement of right or wrong cannot be understood with Utilitarianism, this is because an event must occur only able to judge whether if it is right or wrong. It is a “depend on” kind of situation on the results. As far as it can go, Utilitarianism attempts to provide a moral system apart from any religion teachings, but in the end, it does not succeed.