January 23, 2022

Theory of Utilitarianism: A Critical Analysis


Meaning of utilitarianism

Utilitarianism was essentially a moral theory. The first premise of this theory was Hedonism, a psychological theory. As indicated by Hedonism, the fundamental aim of life is the accomplishment of greatest joy. As per this theory, the estimation of an act is to be surveyed based on the joy and agony which it gives. The demonstration which gives the most extreme delight is acceptable and the demonstration which gives torment is terrible. In this manner, the measure of each demonstration is joy and plain.

The activities which cause pain ought to be evaded by the individual and the state, and the activity which brings delight ought to be performed by the person. The activities which bring joy for the individual are helpful, and those which carry torment to him, are futile.

The form of utilitarianism and state

As a school of political idea, utilitarianism owes its beginning to Jeremy Bentham, an English scholar of the nineteenth century. As indicated by this theory, the administration ought to promote “the greatest good of the greatest number”, or maximum welfare of greatest individuals. Jeremy Bentham and J.S. MILL were the primary supporters of this theory.

The utilitarian’s contradicted the theory and idea of natural rights and the theory of social contract. They said that the individuals made state for their own advantage. They were not set up to acknowledge the divine right idea of the state.

The state is there, on the grounds that it is a helpful establishment. The premise of the capacities and privileges of the state is ‘maximum welfare of the greatest number’. Which functions ought to or ought not to be performed by state, will be chosen by the reality with respect to which function ensure the maximum benefit of the greatest number?

The utilitarians were reformists. Subsequently, they bolstered the obstruction of the state in the changes of certain social wrongs and deficient laws since it will guarantee the maximum benefit of the greatest individuals. Along these lines they embraced a centre course among idealism and individualism.

They were not for the idea of idealism since it retains completely the individual’s personality in the state. Nor were they completely in favour of individualism, on the grounds that, the elements of the state are just protective.

In spite of the fact that the amalgamation of utilitarianism and individualism was not able to complete, yet the utilitarian’s inclined towards individualism. It was in such a way because John Stuart Mill was both utilitarian and individualist. In its beginning time the idea of utilitarianism inclined towards the view that the general public ought to be assessed from the perspective of individual comfort.

Moreover, similar to individualists, the utilitarians were the supporters of private venture. They concurred that the greatest welfare of the individual is conceivable just when in the financial field, the individual is freely left. It implies that the state ought to have least impedance in his functions.

The utilitarian’s, motivated by the sentiment of public welfare, sorted out campaigns for upgrades in general wellbeing, education, and changes in the frameworks of jail facilities and administration. They were fruitful in their plan all things considered. The utilitarian’s needed to advance. Their point was public welfare.

Criticism against utilitarianism

Utilitarianism depends on the idea that whatever functions ought to or ought to not be performed by the individual ought to be tried on the touch-stone of utility. On the off chance that this thought is acknowledged, every individual will work just for his own pleasure.

He will disregard consideration, renunciation, service and penance. This is the principle downside of the theory.

The utilitarians are of the view that the individual accomplishes each work for the fulfilment of joy and for the shirking of agony. Be that as it may, this examination of human instinct is one sided. The truth of the matter is that human instinct is mind-boggling. He has characteristics like pity, faith, administration, kindness, love, compassion, penance, and pardoning in him.

He fixes his high goals based on these characteristics and bears each sort of torment smilingly. For example, when India was under the British, numerous individuals confronted numerous hardships on account of Britishers. They did all these not for their own pleasure yet for their high standards.

The utilitarian has thought about physical comfort, and have overlooked the concealment of sense and discretion. They have likewise not thought about the spiritual comfort which one gets from generosity for mankind.

In some cases, it is conceivable that the majority part may get narrow-minded and selfish and for the sake of maximum welfare of maximum number of people; it might stifle the minority. For example, the Muslims of Pakistan have diverted out the Hindus from their nation. This is inside and out of line. Accordingly, numerous crimes or atrocities can be committed in the name of this doctrine.


The theory of utilitarianism has been harshly criticised and numerous challenges will manifest in the event that if it is implemented. Be that as it may, the fundamental bit of leeway of this theory was that numerous theoretical speculations with respect to the state got a serious setback. The utility turned into the rule and criteria for the testing the values of state and establishments.

The aim of the state was settled as the maximum welfare of the greatest number of individuals. Along these lines, the capacity of the state was restricted distinctly to the maintenance of law. Yet, it was likewise expected to work for the welfare of public.

All the changes of the nineteenth century are ascribed to the requests of utilitarians. In this way, the utilitarianism, for the changes of its own time and for its being associated with the idea of public welfare, end up being a dynamic theory.

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Contributed by: Rishabh Bhardwaj (O.P. Jindal Global University)

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