Traditional Utilitarianism



Whatis ?

Utilitarianismis a general notion which holds that actions and policies have to beevaluated in regard to the benefits and costs they will inflict onsociety. Traditional utilitarianism was founded by Jeremy Bentham.According to Bentham, we are able to measure and add the quantitiesof benefits achieved by an act and take off the measured quantity ofdamage it will cause, enabling us to determine which action has thegreatest benefit, hence moral (Mulgan &amp ebrary, Inc., 2007).Traditional utilitarianism did not focus on the benefit of action tothe doer, but to the others involved. Consequently, traditionalutilitarianism suggests that an action is moral from an ethicalviewpoint if the overall utilities produced by that action is higherthan the overall utilities produced by any other action that theperson could have carried out instead.

Thereare different considerations that one must take to determine whetheran action is moral in any situation under traditional utilitarianism.They include

  1. What should one do in a given situation?

  2. One must determine what alternative actions are there.

  3. The indirect and direct costs and benefits of the action to the people involved in the future must be estimated.

  4. The alternative action with the greatest sum total utility must be chosen.

Whyis Utilitarianism Attractive to Many?

Utilitarianismis attractive to many because, it suggests that individuals shouldalways act in ways which yield more happiness than harm to theinvolved people. This is an appealing view as it advocates forgreater good for the majority of the people. Thus, for any actiondone, the majority of the involved people will benefit.

Utilitarianismis based on economic cost benefit analysis techniques. This makes itattractive to many people because it means that, before taking anyaction, one must carry out a cost benefit analysis and determine theaction with the highest benefit and the least costs. This is relatedto the concept that people like efficiency (Mulgan &amp ebrary,Inc., 2007). Efficiency means, an action that produces high outputwith minimal input. As such, people associate traditionalutilitarianism with efficiency, making it a very popular way ofdetermining a course of action.

Inaddition, traditional utilitarianism is attractive as it isconsequentialism. This makes people to weight options before theyengage in any action. One’s actions lead to consequences andutilitarianism wants the best results for an action (Mulgan &ampebrary, Inc., 2007). By considering the consequences of an act beforecarrying it out, individuals are sure that their best concern istaken into account.

Whatis the ecological ethic?

Ecologyis the study of the environment in relation to human interactionincluding pollution and resource exploitation. It is the science thatcontributes hugely to human understanding of human progress andevolution (Millstein,2013).Ecological ethics on the other hand suggests that a world view thatconcern specifically on humans is the result of environmentchallenges and conflicts of present day. This notion concentrates onthe ever increasing human populace and environmental degradation asthe symptoms and signs of a notion that ignores other forms of lifeand focus mainly on humans.

HowUtilitarianism Support the Ecologic Ethic?

Utilitarianethics advocate for actions which has greatest benefits for theinvolved people. Ecological ethics on the other hand is concernedwith the effects of human activities on the environment. Poor use ordamage of the environment result to harmful consequences such asglobal warming and the resulting effects like floods, draught,hurricanes and tornados which lead to destruction of life andproperties (Millstein,2013).Utilitarianism support ecological ethics as it guides in shaping ofpolicies, social and political actions that supports reduction ofenvironmental pollution like the use of green energy. Consequently,the two ethical approaches are intertwined.


Millstein,R. L. (2013). Environmental ethics. In ThePhilosophy of Biology(pp. 723-743). Springer Netherlands.

Mulgan,T., &amp ebrary, Inc. (2007). UnderstandingUtilitarianism.Montreal: McGill-Queen`s University Press.