Saturday, 12 March 2016

Is being Utilitarian Moral?

Is being Utilitarian Moral?

Utilitarianism can be defined as a theory in normative ethics holding that the best moral action is the one is that maximizes utility. Put simply a utilitarian believes that the best action is the one that benefits the most number of people. It is a democratic theory; it holds that majority rules. I suppose it’s similar to asking whether democracy is always fair. I normally would be a supporter of democracy, I am glad I live in a democratic state; I have used it to defend why equal marriage has not been legislated in Northern Ireland even though I am not against it myself.

It seems to make sense doesn’t it? For example:
There is a group of 5 friends deciding where to go for a night out.
Four the them want to go to one club and one does not (trust me to be allegorical using night-clubs!).
Majority rules that they want to go to that club; it’s for the greater good - most of the group will enjoy themselves.
The other friend must go along and try to enjoy themselves despite hating the music, crowd etc because they don’t want to be selfish.
It is the group as a whole that wants to have a good time, not just one of them; they have to be altruistic.  

Just like when you live in a democratic country; although you may not agree with the way the country is run completely, you understand that there is indirect democracy and therefore it is what most people in theory agree with. Unless you are left-wing of course and throw your toys out of the pram when the Tories legislate anything e.g. the anti-austerity protests.

So in theory, yes, utilitarianism does seem like a morally sound concept to employ.

I have realized that decisions in regards to myself have often been result of utilitarianism. Yes, you are correct! Irish dancing. I do not intend to be tendentious or egotistical but it is a major part of my life so it is natural I am going to write about it.

  1. Asked to leave school - Their decision was utilitarian because they thought me still being a part of their school could result in politics going towards other dancers. They also explained about making up my own material and how this wasn’t what they did and the reason for that was because it caused friction with younger dancers.
  2. Put in a very difficult position - The head-teacher had gone back on his word with me, as when i first entered the school he had stated that he did not have a problem with older dancers making up their own material and had trusted me previously. But due to another teacher in the school and other pupils making a song and dance about it, I was given the option either I could only do steps made up by him or leave. It was also due to dancers being annoyed that I only attended two classes a week and I was receiving more attention than pupils who had been at the school longer.
  3. Pupils had become quite envious of my instant success at competitions and the attention I was receiving in the new organization. It was causing problems and the teacher used a silly action I did as an excuse to ask me to leave.
Each of these cases were utilitarian decisions, I was no angel but I hadn’t done anything nefarious and therefore these decisions felt very unjustified. It was a case of “one bad apple can ruin the whole barrel” - This may seem quite bumptious or supercilious of me, nevertheless it is my perception that other pupils in the schools were intimidated and envious of myself, which was not in my control but played a part in the teacher's decision.

From the outside looking in does this look fair?

I don’t think so.

I was an adult dancer 21 plus of age. Just like in normal life there are different rules regarding Adults and children; there are normally different rules regarding senior pupils and normal pupils. As you have been dancing for longer, it is commonplace that you are given more independence over your choreography; just like in real life as you become an adult you gradually gain independence from your parents.

This may be due to my aspergers but I have never understood why there is any “politics” in Irish dancing. The adjudicators have passed exams proving they can adjudicate on the day and thus have the ability to be cerebral rather than visceral. If there was a problem between two teachers, it is their problem and is not the dancers fault.

Different steps? You wouldn’t give Britney Spears and Adele the same song to sing would you? They are both hugely successful pop stars though. Different people suit different things.

Going to more classes doesn’t always work best for all dancers and doesn’t necessarily mean that the dancer is lackadaisical. I am an anomaly in all areas of life and due to my aspergers and social anxiety I find I work better by myself.  You can’t state that because someone goes to less classes than you, or has been in a school or federation for a shorter period of time than you deserve higher results than them.  

Tyranny of the Majority

Tyranny of the majority occurs when the majority takes action to subjugate the minority this constitutes an oppression comparable to tyranny. Therefore in this way Utilitarianism constitutes bullying; an action may benefit more people but it does not make it a fair decision . An example of Tyrannical Rule may be black slavery in the USA. The white people may have made up the majority of the population and having slaves may have been beneficial to them but this does not mean it’s fair!


So is being utilitarian moral? No. In theory yes it seems fair, but it has shown that it can condone unscrupulous actions. Hence it is circumstantial; it is subjective per the situation.

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