Running head: Act Utilitarianism Act Utilitarianism Utilitarianism is a direct, ethical theory that focuses on the positive results of an action and the overall outcome of that action. It is a universalistic theory that considers the happiness or unhappiness of everyone affected by an action, with no person’s happiness being given more value than another’s. An action is declared as morally right if it brings out as much happiness as it is possible to bring out. Act utilitarianism asserts that an action is right if and only if it brings about at least as much net happiness as any other action the agent could have performed; otherwise the action is wrong (Hadreas, 2018). When deciding how to act in a situation from a utilitarianism perspective, one must assess the consequences and rewards of each action that could possibly be performed. In addition, one must consider the long-term consequences that the action may have for all individuals affected, including for themselves. By summing up the various outcomes and consequences of each possible action for everybody that will be affected, one must choose the action that will bring about the greatest amount of happiness (Hadreas, 2018). The action that brings about the greatest net happiness is morally correct. Any other action taken that does not bring out the greatest amount of happiness is considered morally wrong. Utilitarianism has a consequentialist approach to what is considered right or wrong. One should not let ordinary moral guidelines or rules interfere with choosing which action to take. It is important to choose the action that will maximize the amount of happiness instead of one that may only boost long-run happiness. One must keep an objective and dispassionate approach when choosing a course of action and should not confuse ordinary moral guidelines with moral conduct. Nestle and Advertising Case Study 1
Running head: Act Utilitarianism Nestle, a popular food and beverage company, has been boycotted for their infant formula. Nestle created a powdered, infant formula that was advertised and marketed in Third World countries, specifically toward the mothers living in these countries. Nestle promoted their infant formula without mentioning its’ possible dangers and negative side effects. Because mothers in Third World countries do not have the proper knowledge pertaining to breast feeding versus bottle feeding, the mothers replaced breast feeding with Nestle’s infant formula, which led to malnutrition in infants. Thus, Nestle’s powdered formula was responsible for the death of millions of infants in developing countries. Nestle’s promotion of their infant formula was unethical according to utilitarianism. Nestle only advertised about the positive affects and benefits of their infant formula without mentioning the possible dangers. Nestle was aware of the lack of knowledge and education on breast feeding of those in Third World countries and deliberately chose to conceal the harm effects of their product. Utilitarianism states that an action must maximize the amount happiness
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- Spring '11
- Ethics, Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, act utilitarianism