Your assignment is to prepare and submit a paper on utilitarianism an unreasonable happiness. 24 March, 2008 Unreasonable Happiness The theory of Utilitarianism contends that in order to be ethical one must take into consideration the overall happiness of all people in the world. however this theory disregards an individual’s evolutionary instinct for self-preservation and the prevailing American cultural influence promoting competition. Generally the consequences of excessive consumerism are not apparent to consumers, and there is a lack of awareness of the extent to which one person’s waste impacts the environment. Since the short term pleasure that accompanies convenience is so strong, there is little incentive to consider the excretion that follows consumption. Indeed there are powerful cultural influences to continue consuming even if it requires going into debt, which happens frequently. If so many people shoulder the unpleasant cycle of indebtedness in order to continue consuming, it seems a shift in the entire paradigm of capitalism based on distant people and the abstract next generation is unlikely. However as an individual who has a deeper understanding of the consequences of wastefulness and pollution, I have a greater ethical obligation to make conscious decisions regarding what I use and discard.
There is a deep and vested interest to keep Americans consuming goods and services that they do not need strictly for survival purposes. The growth of the economy depends on many people spending money which drives industry to create more consumables. The most successful marketers are able to tap into and manipulate the aspects of identity that are significant to our sense of well-being. If a dramatic drop in consumption occurred, real and present negative consequences will occur, including many people losing their own job. This is a short term problem compared to the consequences of environmental change. however, drastic change in the average life style of most Americans would cause a lot of unhappiness.
A fundamental change would have to occur that shifted economic models away from objects and activities that are causing harm to other people and future generations. There are certainly other forms of happiness that doesn’t involve wasteful consumerism. Satisfaction derived from the delayed gratification of a accomplishing a challenging task is an example. There is a very pleasurable sensation associated with having a sense of safety and good health. The most important aspect of enduring happiness for me is feeling as though I am working towards fulfilling my purpose in life. When I am working for a higher purpose I am much more willing to forgo small, momentary pleasures.
As an informed individual I have a strong obligation to reduce waste, use renewable energy, recycle, and make lifestyle choices that reduce my impact on the earth.
Sensory pleasure contributes to a sense of comfort and happiness, but the consequences for over-indulgence are detrimental to an individual’s happiness, and the condition of people world wide. As I become more aware of how the daily decisions I make effect others, I realize that being more conscientious is important. It is too easy to focus on work and family, and not consider how much plastic, Styrofoam, and gas I am using. A gradual shift to a less disposable life-style and a focus on finding happiness through relationships, creativity, and simple pleasures is my plan of action to promote a greater level of happiness for all people.