Utilitarianism | PHI208 | Ashford University

Prior to beginning work on this discussion forum, read Chapter 3 of the How Should One Live? An Introduction to Ethics and Moral Reasoning, and Chapter 2 of John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism also in your textbook’s Primary Sources section.

The first discussion this week will focus on explaining and evaluating the utilitarian ethical theory as discussed in Chapter 3 of the textbook. Your instructor will be choosing the discussion question and posting it as the first post in the main discussion forum. The requirements for the discussion this week include the following:

Discussion Topic: Strengths and Weaknesses of Utilitarianism

After reading Chapter 3 of the textbook, consider utilitarianism’s advantages and disadvantages as an ethical theory.

 Please address the following questions (not necessarily in this order):

1. Reflect on yourself: 

  • Consider a time when you (or someone you know) faced an ethical dilemma. Describe the circumstance and include relevant facts about the ethical issue.
  • Discuss whether utilitarian principles were used to address the dilemma. If not used, do you believe that if utilitarian theory had been employed, the ethical dilemma would have had a different outcome?

2. Engage with the text:

  • Using at least one quote from one of the required readings, explain what you believe are the strengths of utilitarianism.
  • Using at least one quote from one of the required readings, explain what you believe are utilitarianism’s weaknesses (objections). 

Several objections to utilitarianism are discussed in Chapter 3, Section 3.5 of the textbook, and John Stuart Mill (2017/1863) discusses eight objections to Utilitarianism (in Chapter 3 of the textbook, the text can be found under “Primary Sources” and the objections under the section, “Objections and Replies”).  

3. Reflect on the theory: 

  • Considering the ethical dilemma shared above, how might someone object to using utilitarianism as a viable means of solving that ethical dilemma? Do you find the objection helpful or unhelpful?

The total word count for all your posts should be at least 600 words, excluding references.