A Case Of Ethical Egoism And Utilitarianism

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Right from our childhood, everyone whether parents or teachers tried to teach us that every action of ours has consequences. Clean our room, get extra desserts. Throw a tantrum, get sent to your room. But in reality, we were just being prepared for intellectual philosophical debates, to deal with morality, which is the distinction between right and wrong.

It is believed by most of the philosophers that the ethical equality of an action is judged completely by its results. But here, an important question arises: How will someone judge what is right and wrong ?. Some people say that right and wrong can be judged through the intentions of the person performing the action. Whereas, at the same time, some people say that right and wrong can only be judged by the action of the person. But judging what is right and wrong just by action give rise to another question which binds us in a complete dilemma. What makes an action moral or immoral ?. Some consequentialist responds to this question by saying outcome of that action defines whether the action was moral or immoral. In other words, only the end justifies the means. But how will someone decide whether the consequence itself is good or bad, moral or immoral?

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People act for many reasons. Some of the important questions which arise are For whom ? or For what ? or Should they act for themselves ? or Should they act for God ? or Should they act for good of the planet ?. So with this, another important question arises, Can an individual ever act only according to his own interests without the regard for interests of other people? Also can an individual ever truly act for others’ completely disregarding his own interests ?

To answer such questions and determine the morality of the action, two basic arguments: Utilitarianism and Ethical egoism came into existence, which are two faces of the same coin named Consequentialism.


Utilitarianism is one of the best known and the most influential moral theory. The basic idea behind this theory is that whether actions are wrong or right based on the results produced by it.

According to Utilitarianism thoughts, actions are judged by the means how much they are benefited to the majority of human beings. This means that utilitarians believe that a moral consequence is that which produces the greatest good for the vast majority of the people. Philosophers call this Utility. In other words, an action can be called moral if it produces the most utility or is the most beneficial to a large group of people. According to Bentham:

Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure.It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do,

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