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For a philosophy that is founded on usefulness I don't see much of a disadvantage. But, I'd love know more about it.

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    This question is too broad for this site, and is better addressed by reading online encyclopedias, e.g. IEP Utilitarianism. We take more specific questions that come up after general reading. – Conifold May 22 '19 at 9:39
  • The problem with utilitarianism is that it's complicated and recursive and requires a lot of knowledge. That's why rules of thumb like the 10 commandments, liberalism or humanism have been developped. We all need heuristics to some degree – Manu de Hanoi Sep 1 '19 at 15:00
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Wikipedia describes utilitarianism as

Utilitarianism is a family of consequentialist ethical theories that promotes actions that maximize happiness and well-being for the majority of a population.

The article lists ten criticisms of utilitarianism which might be viewed as disadvantages. Here are two of them.

  1. Does focusing on utility ignore justice? That is, would utilitarianism "be prepared to punish an innocent person for the greater good"?

This issue is also raised by G. E. M. Anscombe more generally in Modern Moral Philosophy. At the end of her paper she claims that her complaint is that such theories permit one "to procure the judicial condemnation of the innocent".

  1. Can one even predict effectively the consequences for utilitarianism to work?

Some argue that it is impossible to do the calculation that utilitarianism requires because consequences are inherently unknowable.


Anscombe, G. E. M. (1958). Modern moral philosophy. Philosophy, 33(124), 1-19.

Wikipedia contributors. (2019, May 19). Utilitarianism. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 12:33, May 22, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Utilitarianism&oldid=897848977

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  • Thank you, Frank! – DJKG May 26 '19 at 3:57

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