Homework Help

How do you analyze a situation with the utilitarian evaluation?  How do you analyze a...

user profile pic

dpungartnik | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 13, 2010 at 9:04 PM via web

dislike 1 like
How do you analyze a situation with the utilitarian evaluation?  

How do you analyze a situation with the utilitarian evaluation?

 

5 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 13, 2010 at 9:17 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

From a utilitarian perspective, what you have to ask is what costs and benefits come out of all of the options that you have for how to act.

Utilitarian thinking, as put forth by people like Bentham and Mill, says that the correct action is that which gives the most benefit to the most people.  In theory, that is very elegant and very clear.  In practice, it is very hard to decide how much benefit each person who is affected by an action will get from that action.  Even so, that is the utilitarian view of how to decide what action to take.

user profile pic

lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted May 13, 2010 at 11:08 PM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) is the most famous proponent of the 'utilitarian' school of philosophy. His famous remark "the greatest good for the greatest number of people" from his "An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation" (1789) sums up the principle of "Utilitarianism."

However the term "good" is relative, that is, what is 'good' for one person maybe 'bad' for another. Hence conflict of interest arises and it is difficult to decide on the best course of action.

So, each situation has to be evaluated according to its merits and a decision which satisfies the majority has to be taken.

user profile pic

kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted May 19, 2010 at 11:58 PM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill are the two names associated with 'Utilitarianism'. Bentham's famous comment--'the greatest good for the greatest number'--holds the key to Utilitarian thinking.

To judge a situation from the Utilitarian standpoint is to judge it on the basis of the principle of utility. However, such terms as 'good' and 'utility' are often ambiguous, and may be euphemistic or a short-cut for populist compromise. The Utilitarian approach may often be an easy, pragmatic approach which do not do justice  to a significant minority in the name of doing justice to the majority. It is essentially a majoritarian, authoritative approach which may be violative of the ethical normative.

user profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 18, 2010 at 10:00 AM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

A utilitarian perspective is often said to be the less emotional response to a situation.  Have you ever heard someone say, "This isn't personal, it's business"?  That is a utilitarian statement.  If your purpose is to advance your business, then you disconnect your personal connection to the decision.  It may be hard to fire someone you have become friends with over time, but if the business is to survive and remain profitable, then the utilitarian viewpoint has to be adopted.

user profile pic

litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 29, 2011 at 11:41 AM (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like
From a utilitarian perspective, the ends justify the means. If you sought to solve the problem and you did, then you did the right thing. It does not matter what you did or how you did it. What matters is only the end result, and if the end result is good then what you did was moral.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes