Problems for Hedonistic Utilitarianism

The philosophy of hedonistic utilitarianism can obviously make a life of a person easy and pleasant, but lack of moral and ethical constraints makes it rather controversial. The impossibility of constant happiness and pleasure is considered to be one of the reasons for which this theory is criticized.

Being slightly depressed or simply in the neutral mood are normal states of human psyche, without which a person can not be mentally sane. In addition, one can not experience euphoria, when nothing opposes this state (Smart, 1973). Apart from the practical impossibility to be happy every minute of the life, the philosophy of hedonistic utilitarianism poses a serious ethical dilemma whether it is morally right to change the life ideals of intellectual, spiritual growth to the egoistic search of pleasures.

It is not a crime to be happy or at least to try. Moreover, happiness is the ultimate state of the spiritual development, that the majority of world religions and philosophical schools tried to prove. The main problem in this case is the sources of happiness that hedonistic utilitarianism suppose. A person can study all his/her life, change the reality around, help the poor, and thus try to be happy from becoming better. This way is ethically healthy, but it is extremely challenging and life long. The discussed theory supposes that more easy and instant ways to become happy can be used. The only analogy that comes to mind regarding such idea is drug addiction and the increase of the dose in order to feel happy the next time.

Easy achievements make people weak and kill their desire to do something except the search of the new dose of easy happiness. For this reason the theory of hedonistic utilitarianism is criticized, and it is necessary to note that the arguments are thought-provoking.



Smart J. J. C., Williams, B. (1973). Utilitarianism for and against. Cambridge University Press, Print.

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