Consequentialism vs Utilitarianism
Ethics is the study of right and wrong. It is also referred to as moral philosophy and analyzes the principles that decide the behavior of an individual or a group. There are many different theories in ethics with consequentialism and utilitarianism being an important one. There are many similarities between these two theories of ethics to make students confused as they tend to equate one with another and often use them interchangeably. This article attempts to highlight the differences between consequentialism and utilitarianism for the benefit of the readers.
Consequentialism is a theory in ethics that judges people, things and issues on the basis of their outcomes or consequences. Thus, this theory teaches us that we can attain happiness if we can compare the outcome of an action with the beliefs and taboos of the society. Such a theory is of the view that our morality is all about producing good results or consequences. This is a view that has been a subject of debate for long as it expects people to be respectful, obedient, following rules and regulations, god fearing, and not poking their noses in the affairs of others just because of good consequences these actions would bring along. Consequentialists make it binding upon human beings to engage in activities that bring good consequences.
Utilitarianism is a special and most popular type of consequentialism. This theory in ethics accentuates on the fact that we should engage in acts that do maximum good to the maximum number of people. This is a theory that believes that all of us want to be happy but at the same time try to avoid pain to most of us around us. This theory puts emphasis on goals and the manner in which they are sought to be attained. Whether an act is right or wrong, is dependent upon what and how much good the act has produced for people. Well being of human beings is at the centre of utilitarianism with the theory suggesting of engaging in acts that maximize human welfare. The principles of utilitarianism got boosted by the writings of prominent philosophers such as John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham.
What is the difference between Consequentialism and Utilitarianism?
• Utilitarianism was the term that was used to refer to consequentialism till 1960s, but today it is seen more of as a special type of consequentialism.
• Utilitarianism stresses on maximizing the good for the maximum number of people.
• Utilitarianism combines the aspects of hedonism and consequentialism.
• While the greatest good alone is stressed by Consequentialists, utilitarian stresses on greatest good for the greatest number of people.
• Consequentialism says that the rightness of any conduct is based upon its consequences.