Friday, January 27, 2017
Utilitarianism is defined as wanting social institutions restructured for the greater good of the most people. People are free to seek their own pleasure and to avoid pain, which will in turn promote progress in all aspects of society. The most important phrase that came out of utilitarianism is that people will act in their own "rational self-interest." Utilitarians such as John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham, and Fourier believe the man is generally good by nature. In contrast, Dostoevsky believes that man cannot be governed by such rules and generalizations as this and will act however he or she wants to act. Whether or not utilitarianism can be seen as fully or even partly true is impossible to tell with any degree of certainty. One thing that we do know is that if people act in their own self-interest, which they often do, then the world should be a better place because of that according to utilitarianism. I do not believe this tenet of utilitarianism to be true because self-interest can also be associated with greed, spite, and malignant behavior that culminates in negative results for other parties in addition to the individual. Emotions play a big role in defining self-interest, but it is hard to form a philosophy based on something that people may not even know themselves. Who is to say if we are acting in our own self-interest or not if we do not know what that self-interest is? And why would we do anything different if we knew exactly what we wanted?