In this essay, I will outline the moral theory of utilitarianism in the first paragraph. Then, I will
explain the “innocent bystander” or “justice” objection to the theory. Lastly, I will critically
evaluate whether the objection was convincing or unconvincing. In my point of view, the
“innocent bystander” or “justice” objection is convincing.
First Paragraph: Theory of Utilitarianism
• Utilitarianism is a normative moral theory, whose central idea is “the greatest good for
• In general term, it means that an action is right if it produces greatest amount of
• It’s a species of consequentialism.
• Utility: a unit of value (“pleasure”)(Units of happiness caused by an action minus of
unhappiness caused by action)
• According to John Mill Stuart’s “The Greatest Happiness principle” states that “Actions
are right in proportions as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce
the reverse of happiness.”
• Happiness: pleasure, and the absence of pain
• Unhappiness: pain and absence of pleasure
• Happiness is only thing that has intrinsic value.
• Basic idea “Maximising happiness, minimizing pain”
Second Paragraph: Innocent Bystander objection
• According to the “innocent bystander” or “justice” objection to the theory, it is unfair to
kill one person to save lives of many people.
• For instance, “suppose a terrorist threatens Steven Harper that he/she will blow up an
entire building and many people in it, unless one innocent civilian is killed”.According to
utilitarianism, it is be