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Intuitively speaking, utilitarianism appears to be an extremely attractive philosophy. It offers a simplicity that many other philosophical approaches lack and in particular cuts through the mish mash of moral rules favoured by deontological thinkers. It is reconcilable with the majoritarianism favoured by democratic systems of government. Moreover, utilitarianism offers an obvious answer to the question of why we should act in a certain way in the absence of a religious justification.Despite this, the theory has attracted copious criticism. On a practical level, utilitarianism has been derided as unworkable, and even absurd. It has been argued that there is no adequate means of defining happiness, nor any suitable method for quantifying levels of happiness. Even if the theory can be made to work on a practical level, others argue, the results are morally wrong. Others object to the reduction of the human experience to the pursuit of pleasure.The various criticisms are too numerous and intricate to discuss in detail here and as such I will confine my discussion to two criticisms that are particularly prevalent in philosophical literature: the first relating to practical problems in applying the utilitarian concept and the second dealing with concerns arising from the results of utilitarian analysis.


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