The following write up discusses the Greatest Happiness Principle, welfarism and cultural relativism. The Greatest Happiness principle is discussed as well as objections to Sum ranking welfarism and cultural relativism.

According to the greatest happiness principle, actions are right in proportion because they apparently promote happiness and wrong as they tend to encourage the reverse of happiness The Greatest Happiness Principle is the engine to Mill’s ethical theory. All human beings attempt to promote their own happiness and keep off unhappiness. This is natural, unlike ethical. Happiness promotion becomes an ethical theory, when applied, not just to ourselves, but to all human beings. It figures out how many people get affected by a certain action, and the manner thriugh which they are affected, hence the determination of whether the action is right or wrong. As long as an action does promote happiness, it is right in the people involved and wrong as long as it brings unhappiness to the people inflicted by the action.

For instance, suppose a person has a passion for travelling and they book themselves a trip to the Bahamas. The pleasure experienced as a result of the trip has been taken into consideration by Mill’s utilitarian calculus. If he goes out to robs people to afford the trip  and hence causes harm and pain to people, utilitarian calculus still takes into account this pain caused. The unhappiness created outweighs by far the happiness of a single traveler, making the action immoral (Ebenstein 1998).

Sum ranking welfarism holds that the best outcome is one which leads to the greatest amount of pleasure by considering everyone involved equally. This means that we have to involve ourselves in actions that lead to maximum aggregate pleasure. On reflection, this utilitarian element has a shortcoming. Consider, ten students in a class and there  are one hundred dollars to give out. Seemingly, the most suitable thing to do would be to divide the amount equally among the students, so that each receives ten dollars. This might appear to be a nice bit of utility, though not overwhelming. This principle has its objections which have been brought up over time. One of the Objections is based on the fact that it is not possible to predict the consequences of an action and, therefore, its moral value cannot be assessed.

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Welfarism purports that we ought to always do what maximizes utility giving us a huge burden. This makes it a bit too demanding. Another objection to welfarism is that it ignores distributive justice through seeking to bring as much happiness as possible to the world, but some people deserve more happiness compared to others. No action, according to welfarism, is better intrinsically to any other. Some actions though are wrong irrespective of their consequences.

Cultural relativism is the view that all customs, ethics and beliefs, are relative to the individual within their own social context. Culture relativism hold that “right” and “wrong” are culture-specific in that what is considered as moral in a certain society may be regarded as immoral the other, and, since there is no universal standard of morality, no one has got the right to judge another society’s customs and beliefs.

Culture plays a big role in shaping what people believe and accept as morally right or wrong.  An example of effect of culture in shaping attitude towards morality is where children grow up in violent families, where the father beats their mother. Such a child might grow up convinced that wife-beating is right and necessary. This belief is further enhanced by the superior attitude men are viewed with in these societies, and the fact that even the political administration seems to embrace it. The status of the father in the society can also play a profound role in shaping that attitude of contempt towards women. They get convinced that it is a show of authority and love. Such attitudes and ideas get emblazoned in the minds of the kids and might proof an uphill ask to alter the. Chances are that such children will grow up to beat wife batterers. Culture though cannot be said to contribute wholly to ones view of morality because, within all human beings, there is a natural law, knowledge of instinct of some primary level of bad or good that exists, though it may not be refined. Also, nobody is forced to assume a certain character. As people grow up and knowledgeable, they end deviating from beliefs of the their cultures and follows a different course.


Greatest Happiness Principle holds that people should only involve themselves in those actions that maximize overall happiness. Sum ranking welfarism is too demanding of  people's expectations of people’s actions while premise one of cultural relativism can wholly explain peoples attitude of what is right or wrong.

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