Comparison Of Utilitarianism And Rationalism Philosophy Essay

The output of the applied concept of knowledge is always a debate between the utilitarian and the rationalist.Both are to attain the maximum gains of human knowledge but when the rational ethics and act utilitarianism are used to analyse the effect on human being then comes the wide range of differences.When I was using these two approaches to my research” the factors effecting the launch of a new product”. I was oscilating between the two pools of corporate social responsibility, community response and the corporate targets.

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Utilitarianism is the policy and procedure to make the practical decision. The target is “the greatest happiness” (Goodin 1995).The utalitarion approach towards the business helps in bringing the ideal requirements and outputs on the table but the prefectionist angle of Utalitariainsim leads toward the ridiculous conclusions, and the outcome is the neglecting the rights The p

It is very difficult to quantify pleasures for cost/benefit analysis (but since this only has to be done on a comparative scale, this may not be as serious an objection as it at first seems).

3. The calculation required to determine the right is both complicated and time consuming. Many occasions will not permit the time and many individuals may not even be capable of the calculations.

4. Since the greatest good for the greatest number is described in aggregate terms, that good may be achieved under conditions that are harmful to some, so long as that harm is balanced by a greater good.

5. The theory fails to acknowledge any individual rights that could not be violated for the sake of the greatest good. Indeed, even the murder of an innocent person would seem to be condoned if it served the greater number

Finding the stream of Utilitarian thought from its sources, we may start with Hobbes (Leviathan, 1651), whose basic ethical principal is that right conduct is that which enhance our own welfare; and the social code of morals depends for its reason on whether or not it serves the wellbeing of those who observe it. A Protestant divine, Richard Cumberland (De legibus natur?, 1672), engaged in the refutation of Hobbes’s doctrine, that morality depends on civil enactment, sought to show that the greatest happiness principle is a law of the Gospel and a law of nature: “The greatest possible benevolence of every rational agent towards all the rest makes the happiest state of each and all. Accordingly common good will be the supreme law.” This view was further developed by some other theologians of whom the last and most peculier was Paley (Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, 1785), who reasoned that since God wills the happiness of all men it follows that if we would conform our conduct to GodHYPERLINK “”‘HYPERLINK “”s will we must act so as to promote the common happiness; and virtue consists in doing good to all mankind in obedience to the will of God and for the sake of everlasting happiness. Moral duty he conceived to be the pressure of the Divine will upon our wills urging us to right action. In his Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals (1751) he did an vast analysis of the various judgments which we pass upon our own character and conduct and on those of others; and from this study he deducted that virtue and personal merit lie in those qualities which are beneficial for us and others. In the course of his speculation he confronts the question which is the irremovable hinderence in the way of the Utilitarian theorist: How is the motive of self-interest to be resolved with the motive of benevolence; if every man necessarily pursues his own happiness, how can the happiness of all be the end of conduct? Unlike the later thinkers of this school, Hume did not discuss or attempt systematically to solve the difficulty; he dismissed it by resting on the assumption that benevolence is the supreme virtue.

In Hartley(observation of man,1748)i find the first endeavour to prove this rule by the way of the theory of association to which a part of our moral judgement is assigned by spectacular,especially those of the evolutioest party. . From sensations and the lower elementary or primary emotions, according to Hartley, result higher feelings and emotions, different in kind from the processes out of which they have arisen. The motives, sympathy and benevolence, are then responsible for. With Bentham arises the group of thinkers who have appropriated the name of Utilitarians as their distinctive badge. The leaders after Bentham were the two Mills, the two Austins, and Godwin, who are also known as the Philosophic Radicals.

Nature has placed humanbeing under the governance of two ultimate masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do as well as what we shall do. On the one hand the exact of right and wrong, on the other the chain of cause and effect are linked to their throne. They govern us in all we do, every effort we can make to throw off their subjection will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it. In a word man may show to leave their empire; but actually he will remain subject to it all the while. The principle of utility accept this exception and assumes it for the foundation of that system the object of which is to rear the fabric of felicity by the hand of reason and law.

Staunchly standing by the principle of non-qualified egoism, Bentham escapes himself of the task of reconciling self-interest.

Dream not that men will move their little finger to serve you, unless their advantage in doing so is visible to them. Men never did so and never will while humanextinct is made up of its present materials. But they will long for to serve you when by so doing they can serve themselves, and the point on which they can serve themselves by serving you are multitudinous (Deontology, ii, 1834; posthumous work).

In the hands of Bentham and his disciples Utilitarianism disconnects morality from its religious basis and, incorporating Determinism with its other tenets, becomes pronouncedly Positivistic, and moral duties are resolved into a prejudice or a feeling resulting from a long-continued association of unacceptable results attending some kinds of actions, and advantages following others. The word ought Bentham characterizes as an imperative impostor, the talisman of arrogancy, indolence, and ignorance. It is the condemnation of Utilitarianism that this estimate of duty is thoroughlyassociated with the system; and no defender of the utility theory has been able, though some have tried, to indicate the claims of moral obligation on Positivistic Utilitarian grounds. Bentham drew up a curious scheme for computing the worth or weight to be assigned to all sorts of pleasures and pains, as a practical norm to determine in the concrete the moral value of any action. He assumes that all pleasures are alike in kind and differ only in quantity, that is in intensity, certainty, duration, etc. His psychological analysis, besides the original defect of making self-interest the sole motive of human action, contains many errors. Subsequent writers have left it as worthless for the very good reason to calculate, as its employment would demand, all the results of every action, and to shows a balance between the advantages and disadvantages lie upon it, would require an intellect much more powerful than that with which man is bestowed with.


Greeks scholars such as Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle laid the foundations of logical thinking, freer thinking in the Western world about truth and falsehood was hindered for many centuries by the church in general and Catholics in particular. Galileo, for example, in the face of severe punishment had to recant his heresies about the movement of the earth.

Thomas Aquinas, in the 13th century, attempted to mix Greek Rationalism and Christian revelation. Although the church opposed scientific rationalism, they endowed the general idea within the limits of religious teachings. The training of priests still includes the use of rational logics to defend the teachings of the church.

Rationalists assume that the world is deterministic, and that cause and effect hold for all events. They also assume that these can be understood through sufficient understanding and thought. A priori (prior to experience) or rational insight is a source of much knowledge. Sense experience, on the other hand, is seen as being too confusing and tentative. Logic and mathematics are classic rational disciplines, as is philosophy.

Rational argument is particularly attractive as it implies a superior intellect, and we all use it regularly, although the truth of our assertions is often open to question.

Variations on rationalism include:

Speculative Rationalism: assumption that the world is a fully deterministic, rationally ordered whole.

Rational Ethics: An act should be judged by its self-consistency.

Religious rationalism: Starts from the assumption of a religious truth and argues within bounds, such as the Bible or the Koran. Varieties of Rationalism that decay from Religious Rationalism include:

Deism: which accepts the existence of God but rejects supernatural revelations.

Atheism: which denies the teachings of the church and opposes its methods (e.g. Voltaire and Diderot).

Hegelianism: religion is seen as the product of a reason that is still under the sway of feeling and imagination.

Darwinism: which denies religious teachings and sees us as evolved apes.


Zahid Shakil

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