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Utilityariansim And Friensdhip Essay

1582 words - 7 pages

Can A Utilitarian have Friends?
What exactly is a utilitarian? Some people would call utilitarianism a belief that "the ends justify the means". But when it comes down to it, isn't utilitarianism really just some set of values, and a belief in doing what is necessary in order to maximize the realization of those values? After all, both "ends" and "means" are in some sense an "event", and you could say that a utilitarian is simply someone who has a theory as to what kinds of events are good, and what kinds of events are bad, and tries to cause good events to happen and bad events not to happen.
Yet, utilitarianism means something, and it means something important. “Pleasure and freedom ...view middle of the document...

” If something makes you happy, does it make everyone else happy, and more importantly does it harm anyone else. This is one of the questions that I will attempt to answer in the topic of friendship. Can a true Utilitarian have friendships and are they good, desirable things. Or, are friendships unnecessary for a truly happy life in which the common good is higher than everything else.
Mill states that "They (objectors to Utilitarianism) say that it is exacting to much to require people should always act from the inducement of promoting the general interests of society". Here, Mill clearly demonstrate s and puts forth the common accusation that is leveled against utilitarianism, that it is overburden some to assign each individual to live constantly doing what is the greater good for society.
This might be a more egoistic approach to ethics, the doctrine stating that people will only act out of self interest. Mill refutes this argument by claiming it a misinterpretation of utilitarianism principles and of ethics to level such a criticism against the philosophy. Mill states "The great majority of good are not intended for the benefit of the greater world, but for that of individuals, of which the good of the world is made up"...Mill is exhibiting through his statement that utilitarianism does not require each individual to serve the general population every day, but rather but each individual acting to benefit even one other soul, collectively that would multiply and benefit humankind for the greater good of the world. He argues that one need not even be conscious of the benefit in his positive actions' effect on the world for it to be part of the utilitarian idea. (Mojtabai)
An act Utilitarian, can indeed have friendships, because these friendships promote good among those people, and by this action benefits at least one other person, and according to Mill, this one other soul that is benefited is enough to promote happiness. By all of these “tiny” benefits will add up to a greater benefit that will in turn, promote the common good of mankind. Because, by having these said friendships, an act utilitarian is not causing anybody pain, but is in fact promoting joy for themselves and the other person involved in the friendship.
For an act that causes no pain is right, and an act that causes pain is wrong. Since this friendship would cause no pain, then it is a right, good decision.
Friendships are a very valuable part of most people’s lives, and they cause so much joy and pleasure in that person’s life. A utilitarian’s goal in life is to promote joy and to denounce pain and displeasure, and to seek higher pleasures in life because these promote the greater amount of happiness. Epicurus believed that higher pleasures are chiefly aesthetic and intellectual, while lower pleasures are food, drink, and sex.
For example, if I bought my favorite dinner at a restaurant I would be very happy for the time that I was eating, but...

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