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Write a short note on the philosophical criticisms of utilitarianism.
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Test Bank for Business and Its Environment
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One criticism of consequentialist systems is that they do not give adequate attention to intrinsic rights and liberties, which are said to be fundamentally important. A related criticism is that consequentialist systems treat all things alike in their calculus. Thus, aspirations, wants, needs, liberties, and opportunities are relevant only with regard to their consequences.
Another concern with utilitarianism pertains to how duty is assigned when consequences are jointly determined or transgressions are possible. If there is only one person who can take the moral action, the assignment of duty is clear. In some cases, however, there may be several parties who could take the action, or the consequences could be jointly determined.
One resolution is that the duty should be assigned to everyone who could take the action, but that leaves a collective choice problem that could be difficult to resolve. If there are costs associated with taking the action, the utilitarian resolution of the collective choice problem is that the person with the lowest cost of acting should be assigned the duty, as indicated previously. More generally, the assignment of duty can be based on the Calabresi and Melamed principles.
Utilitarianism is also criticized for its focus solely on human well-being. Some critics claim that it should be expanded to include the well-being of other living creatures such as animals and trees and inanimate objects such as rocks and soil as well.
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