Utilitarianism as a philosophy on which to base business, government and society offers a great deal of ambiguity.
It allows for almost as many interpretations as there are people to think about it.That being the case, it is,first and foremost, unworkable as a basis for conducting any sort of interaction, from commercial to governmental to social. Some people think utilitarianism means a sort of hedonisticgood,’ while others think it is analtruistic’ good that is being sought.Some define happiness as present condition; others define it as the result of a lifetime.And that only begins to scratch the surface of the varying degrees of thinking about Utilitarianism, however, as most people very simplistically think about it, is putting pleasure before pain.
Some take it a step beyond that, and consider it putting pleasure before pain for the greatest number of people.In some ways, of course, that is a very appealing sort of statement to members of a democratic society.In the U.
S., for example, the belief in the rule of the majority is very prevalent.It is not, therefore, much of a stretch to propose that making pleasure, as opposed to pain, possible for the majority is a good thing. But basing action on such simplistic divisions into good and bad, pleasure-producing or pain-producing, greatest number or fewest number, leaves out a great deal of nuance.As they say, the devil is in the details.For example, let’s say a business executive decided, on the basis of the most recent research, that it was good to cook all hamburgers in fat derived from the belly pouches of sleeping pandas.
It would seem a good thing, in a utilitarian sense, to kill a few hundred pandas (oops, there are only a few hundred pandas, but this is imagination anyway) to get their fat to cook hamburgers for a huge population of hungry Americans.What could be wrong with that’I…