By Amateur Philosopher Penny Ham
Let me tell you about an ethical theory that seems dumb to me. The name of this stupid ethical theory is utilitarianism. Utilitarianism has its origins in thinkers like Jeremy Bentham and John Stewart Mill. It’s usually some form of do x because x is for the greatest good for the greatest amount of people. Good usually boils down to some kind of pleasure. But to me that’s just stupid. I don’t care about some stupid pleasure. The main problem with utilitarianism is that it doesn’t tell me what can get me the greatest amount of money. I’m not led by simple pleasures. I’m not led by anything of that sort. I’m led by pure unadulterated greed. Yes, greed for wealth. You might think my greed only leads to some amount of pleasure. But you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. I just have pure greed-drive and nothing more.
I’ve heard the main problem with utilitarianism is that you become responsible for consequences far off into the future that you couldn’t have predicted. That’s not a real problem with utilitarianism. The real bloody problem with utilitarianism is that it is the exact kind of ethical theory that would make me think twice about punching that guy in the face who annoys me at work.
I have to ask, what on Earth motivates anyone to even think about what good they can do for the greatest number? Reality proves time and time again that the greatest number should clearly be improving themselves and doing what they can for me. Look, the greatest number of people don’t even need to be doing stuff for me but they could just be doing good already. Seriously I get tired of hearing people whine. The quick solution to their problem is that they should all shut up and just be happy. Anyway, that just leads me to thinking about something else new.
What if you find yourself already in the best of all possible worlds? What do you do then? Well, if you’re a utilitarian, then you apply those principles. If you’re not utilitarian, then you don’t. So either way, it just looks like it’s the best of all possible world’s no matter what free will decision you make. Look, a utilitarian would say the best of all possible worlds would be where everyone’s actions wind up being the greatest good for the greatest number. Well, no shit! I’d hope they’d say that, otherwise, they wouldn’t be utilitarian. And a utilitarian-hater like me would say that the best of all possible worlds would be where utilitarians are wrong on everything and know it and then go cry themselves to sleep at night!
Anyway, let me tell you about the greatest contradiction not yet explained away by any utilitarian. Part of the principle of utilitarianism says to do the greatest good. But how can I do the greatest good, when asshole do-gooders are always beating me and doing greater? The utilitarian response is normally: do the greatest that you can do. Oh well, what kind of weak ass utilitarianism is that? I always thought you should do the greatest anyone else could do. If utilitarianism is going to be this anti-competitive, then what’s the point?
I’ll close with this thought. What if 200 years from now, we all look back to find that the greatest amount of bad was produced all by the doctrine of utilitarianism originally espoused by the moral philosopher Jeremy Bentham? Well I certainly wouldn’t hop into my time machine in order to go back in time to kill the bastard. That’s the exact kind of utilitarian thinking Bentham would welcome. Fuck him!
Did you like this article? Please consider subscribing and telling your friends about it.