Utilitarianism by Jeremy Bentham & John Stuart Mills

Utilitarianism believes that the rightness or wrongness of a thing or action is determined by its usefulness. The right thing to do in any situation, if it produce the best overall outcome for all those who will be affected by the action. It is a consequential theory that we need to look at harm/benefit to ourselves and other people in the world. We have chose to discuss Utilitarianism by citing a movie, In Time by Andrew Niccol. (2011)

Utilitarianism stated that an action that brings greatest goodness for the greatest number of people in the overall situation is ethical. Bentham’s Act Utilitarianism says that the action that brings greatest good over bad for the ones that are affected in each different situation is ethical. There are no absolute rules. However Mills argues that rules that yield greatest good for all concerned should be establish and follow by the people regardless any situation. In In Time (Andrew Niccol, 2011), Will Salas from the poor society, Dayton and Sylvia, the daughter of the time bank owner of rich society, New Greenwich decided to team up to rob her father’s time banks after seeing the constant rising of prices of things in the poor town. The act of Will and Sylvia in the movie to rob the bank and give to the poor is ethical as they have increase the happiness of majority people who are still alive and suffer poorness in Dayton.

According to Utilitarianism, the majority can only override the minority if the minority do something to harm them. The minority will be considered if they are harmed by the majority. In the movie In Time (Andrew Niccol, 2011), the minority, those who owns century of time currency constantly increase the living cost and do not care about the death of the poor. Therefore, it is ethical for Will and Rachel to overturn the rich by robbing the bank to get the money for the poor. 

Happiness means the presence of pleasure and absence of pain while people are motivated by pleasure and pain. Utilitarian believes that rational beings prefer intellectual pleasure rather than sensual pleasure. The pleasure of the majority people in the movie In Time (Andrew Niccol, 2011) is that they have chance to live. However, they experience the pain whereby they have to see their family and friends pass away one by one. The pleasure and pain that they experienced motivate them to work and gain the time to live.

Teleological argues that the end justify the means. Therefore, an action is counted as ethical as long as it resulted in increasing in overall usefulness and happiness for the majority affected.


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