Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that holds that an action is right if it produces, or if it tends to produce, the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people affected by the action. Otherwise the action is wrong.
This cost-benefit analysis is a form of utility calculation. People in business theory use utility curves to plot the results of various actions, choosing those that maximize whatever it is that they wish to achieve. This utility approach is not foreign to most people. It is widely used in many forms of general decision making and can be applied to moral issues as well as to strictly business issues. A defense of utilitarianism as an ethical theory is that it describes what rational people actually do in making moral decisions. It explicitly formulates for them the procedures they intuitively and spontaneously use in moral reasoning. The theory renders explicit what is implicit in the ordinary moral reasoning and argumentation that we ourselves use
Utilitarianism adopts a teleological approach to ethics and claims that actions are to be judged by their consequences. According to this view, actions are not good or bad in themselves. Actions take on moral value only when considered in conjunction with the effects that follow upon them.
ACT AND RULE UTILITARIANISM
Act utilitarianism holds that each individual action, in all its concreteness and in all its detail, is what should be subjected to the utilitarian test.
Rule utilitarians hold that utility applies appropriately to classes of actions rather than to given individual actions. Thus, by looking at the general consequences of breaking contracts in the past, we can determine that breaking contracts is immoral.
OBJECTIONS TO UTILITARIANISM
One objection claims that utilitarianism is ungodly because it proposes utility, rather than the Bible or God, as a basis for moral judgments.
A second objection frequently brought against utilitarianism is...
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