What is the criticism of Utilitarianism?

Utilitarianism developed on the background of industrial revolution and in the framework of empiricism. Utilitarianism helped in eradicating established social abuses. The reforms in the interest of social justice were influenced by Altruistic hedonists. Their aim was to reduce the difference between individual happiness and common, general happiness.

Utilitarianism takes one sided view of human nature. Man is not only sentient creature but he is also a rational being. Man has to satisfy his total nature-rational as well as sensuous.

Utilitarianism wrongly identifies happiness with pleasure. Pleasure consists in the satisfaction of a single desire whereas Happiness means totality of the satisfaction of various desires.

Utilitarianism wrongly believes that pleasure is ‘The Good.’ Actually pleasure is only one of the good things of life. Apart from pleasure, wealth, power, knowledge, beauty and virtues contribute to good life.

Utilitarianism confuses ‘a pleasant choice’ with a ‘choice of the pleasant’. Pleasure is not the object of choice, it is accompaniment of choice.

Utilitarianism seeks satisfaction of desire. However it does not tell us, how to integrate pleasures to lead a harmonious life.

Kant says that ‘Ends do not justify means’. The criterion of utility is an external criterion. The actions are evaluated by their consequences and not by the intention of the agent.

If pleasure is the supreme goal of life, it is our duty to perform the pleasant actions. But in actual life, we do perform goal oriented actions without bothering about pleasure or pain.

Utilitarianism maintains that every individual seeks his own pleasure. So, a consistent hedonism can never lead to altruism.

Susan Stebbing says, “Mill is consistently inconsistent”. Mills Utilitarianism commits following fallacies—

  1. Mill says that pleasure is desirable because men do desire pleasure. Thus he commits the fallacy of figure of speech.
  2. Utilitarianism commits the fallacy of Composition while proceeding from individual happiness to general happiness. What is good of one individual is not necessarily good of the aggregate of individuals.
  3. Utilitarianism commits the fallacy of Division while proceeding from general happiness to individual happiness. What is good for aggregate of individuals is not necessarily good for one individual.
  4. Mills sanction of morality i.e. conscience is not consistent with the spirit of hedonism. Pursuit of pleasure and conscience often contradict one another.
  5. According to G.E. Moore, Utilitarianism commits the Naturalistic Fallacy. A Naturalistic fallacy is committed when a moral concept is defined in natural, non-moral

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