Utilitarianism, hedonism, and desert analysis

Act utilitarianism can be defined as a utilitarian theory of ethics which suggests that any decision taken by a person is considered ethically right and justified if the action results in positive results in that particular situation. Harsanyi, J. C. (1995).  Utilitarianisms uphold happiness and pleasure in the absence of pain. The various terms associated with act utilitarianism include; hedonic utility which refers to the cumulative amount of pleasure experienced or produced by a particular act for everybody that is affected by that act without considering the total amount of resultant pain that same act can impose on everybody that is concerned. Hedonists believe that the definition of a successful life is directly linked to the amount of pleasure experienced in that particular kind of life. ( Feldman, F. 1997)

Maximizing as discussed by Gustaffson J.E. (2018) was brought about by Bentham where he argued that life was not only about experiencing pleasure but also, the greatest amount of that was required for the greatest number of individuals.  According to maximizing, morally right acts are to produce pleasure and happiness to a greater number of people. i.e. spending money to buy a bicycle for a kid is considered to produce a considerable pleasure, however, if the same money would have been donated to a charity organization, the amount of pleasure would have increased to cover a larger group. Another that is associated with act Unitarianism is alternatives which refer to all the things an agent could do in the circumstances

Bentham considered pleasure as a feeling that is similar to the feelings of warmth and coolness. According to him, the value of life is determined by the value of pleasure it contains. He stated that nature had put the man under the governance of two absolute masters; pain and pleasure and therefore it is upon man to determine how to live life. According to him, the value of the duration of pleasure and pain is determined by its intensity multiplied by its duration. For pleasure Bentham states that if a lot of happiness is generated by a particular action A more than that produced by action C, then action should be considered morally right since it generates more pleasure. It can be noted that it is unacceptable to carry out torture regardless of the situation and circumstances leading to the torture however Bentham has held that pain is at a time acceptable if the effect will pleasure a greater number of people. Actions of torture to stop extremism and terrorists activities are acceptable according to Bentham.

From the above passage, enacting law 2 would be of many benefits to the people despite posing a lot of burden to the opposition. Drawing from Bentham’s dictates of pain and pleasure, he stated that it can be considered morally right for a few people to suffer to generate more and greater pleasure to the greatest number of people.

The author considers act utilitarianism to be true because the president enacting law 2 will result into more pleasure and lack of pain to the citizens, this is because they would be exempted from paying taxes and according to the utilitarianism approach, it states that in the event more pleasure is generated from a single activity than pain from the same activity, then the hedonistic view of utilitarianism is said to have achieved its goal. Exempting citizens from tax obligations is sure to create more pleasure to them despite the opposition having to pay the extra charge. The utilitarianism is therefore true as per the above argument. Deductively, I would say the argument is true since it has all valid premises as per the provisions of the utilitarian approach.

Hedonism egoism is a situation where joy and happiness are derived through actions that address the needs of a particular person. Rebecca is unlike most, she lacks conscience at all. She doesn’t seem to bother even after screwing people. She acknowledges hurting as well and admits that she doesn’t care at all. She decides to go for a two-week vacation to Italy. Deciding to travel through the countryside of Italy, one day she notices a beautiful ancient painting of art in an abandoned church, she decides to steal it for personal enjoyment at her home but before doing so she thinks about it. If she is to steal it then the local villagers residing around the church would be appalled, those who are in love with art around the world would as well be horrified. (Sober, E, 2000)

Hedonic utility considers the amount of pleasure that can be achieved from an act for everybody else that is concerned regardless of the pain the result from the same act while egoism is pegged on the notion that the requirements of morality are simply to promote personal interests. Hedonic egoism, therefore, assumes that an action is considered to be morally right if it maximizes pleasure without regarding the pain it imposes on the agent. Hedonic agent utility simply refers to the total number of hedons the agent of the act would experience if the act were performed, without regard to the total number of dolors the agent would experience. (Vessel J.P, 2010) About the hedonic egoism, self-sacrificial acts are never morally acceptable and according to this argument, Rebecca should do what is morally right by taking the painting with her since it is not morally to sacrifice her desire for the interests of others.

Kant’s formula of c12 states that an act is considered morally right IFF in carrying it out. The individuals to this respect accord the same to others as they do themselves. You accord treatment someone as an end-in-themselves IFF you treat them as a free and rational being. While treating some, you have to consider the following four main pillars ;( Wiessing, 2008)

  • You should not maim them, damage any part of their body or even kill them
  • You ought to respect their internal body structure while treating them.
  • You need to understand that your treatment of them enables them to satisfy their duties of self-perfection
  • You help them with their permissible projects

According to the pluralists, an action is right if it fully complies with one’s more important prima facie in one’s particular context of action. This only allows you to violate the prima facie to the least degree possible.

From the above arguments, the CDC case against his will was false.




Feldman, F. (1997). Utilitarianism, hedonism, and desert: essays in moral philosophy. Cambridge University Press.

Gustafsson, J. E. (2018). Bentham’s binary form of maximizing utilitarianism. British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 26(1), 87-109.

Harsanyi, J. C. (1995). A theory of prudential values and a rule utilitarian theory of morality. Social Choice and Welfare, 12(4), 319-333.

Sober, E. (2000). Psychological egoism. The Blackwell guide to ethical theory. Blackwell, Malden, MA, 129-148.

Vessel, J. P. (2010). For utilitarianism. American Philosophical Quarterly, 47(4).

Wiesing, U. (2008). Immanuel Kant, his philosophy and medicine. Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy, 11(2), 221-236.

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