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Principle of Utility

The principle of utilities is perceived to be straightforward and moral. However, in its application, Utilitarianism turns out to be an immoral and complicated law to apply in some situations. Sometimes referred to as the Greatest Principle of Happiness, the principle of utility states that actions are right if they tend to promote happiness or pleasure and wrong if they perpetuate unhappiness and pain. Pain and pleasure; good and evil, are termed as the great masters that life has imposed on us.  Our actions dictate if we will derive pain or pleasure. The principle of utilities advocates for actions instill joy and happiness as opposed to suffering. The big concern arises in determining in whose interest should one act to promote happiness and pleasure.

One case study that brings out the controversy of the principle of utilities involves policies adopted in the bid to achieve economic recovery after the 2008 financial crisis. Many companies like AIG, Bank of America and City Bank faced dissolution. Interestingly, government and other bodies formulated a reasoning that would oversee these banks, and other businesses rise back into operation. The term Too Big to Fail was coined then. It referred to institutions that would not be allowed to fail to economic circumstances like the financial crisis. The main reason being that such institution meant common good to the general public and the welfare of several parties like employers and other beneficiaries.  A month after the decision, $700 billion was released through The Toxic Assets Relief Program (TARP), to refund the Too Big to Fail institutions.

Based on the principle of Utilitarianism, the government had to act by sacrificing its interest for the sake of happiness and pleasures of the public and other people like organizational employees that could be significantly affected. Several arguments come into light challenging the application of the principle of utility. From one perspective, the action by the federal government did save several people from possible pain and suffering. On the other hand, the real beneficiaries of such a move are not among the general public but the wealthy who play a significant role in the making of such policies. The principle of utility cannot justify the value of private interest against public interest. It is also ironical to refer to the action by government as self-sacrificing. Widely known, government sources funds from its citizens through federal taxes. Reimbursing funds into the public does not amount to the self-sacrifice of government.

On the same idea of Too Big to Fail, Trump’s line of business was funded instead of being liquidated to recover loans. The main reason being the value of the name Trump in the business world. At the end of the day, public traders lost their money by purchasing non-performing shares. Apparently, the idea of private interest comes into being. The action of the banks to act out of sacrifice had a greater cost to the general public. Ideally, Utilitarianism bears the loopholes, especially when some policies are meant to benefit just a few people at the sacrifice of the common interest. The principle of Utilitarianism cannot work in isolation. This is because there is a situation that impacts of individual policies result in issues that one cannot be certain. Hence, there is need to incorporate other principles and apply collective thinking when seeking to sacrifice for the sake of the pleasures of another or others.


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