Utilitarianism is a normative ethics theory that holds that an appropriate course of action is that which will maximize utility. This means that an action that maximizes happiness and reduces suffering would be described as a proper course of action (Jeremy 2009). The main proponent of this theory is John Stuart Mill who stated that an action that brings happiness to an individual’s life rather than bring suffering is an appropriate action. The theory is a form of consequentialism which holds that a person should be ready to accept the consequences of his action (Taylor 2008). According to the theory, the resulting outcome of a person’s actions determines if his action was of moral worth. Some theorists, however, argue that there should be a way to determine the moral worth of an action in consideration to foreseen actual and intended consequences.  John Stuart Mill, the main proponent of the theory argues that every individual desires pleasure, freedom from pain and happiness as the ultimate consequence of his action (Taylor 2008). Every desirable thing in the contemporary society is desirable for pleasure that is inherent in the individual and a means to promote pleasure and freedom from pain. The theory focuses primarily on habits and actions that lead to happiness.


Moral issue

A moral issue is that which involves a difference in belief and not necessarily an issue of preference. These moral issues involve experiences that a person experiences and actions that might affect other people. Moral issues are those actions that have the ability to harm or help ourselves and others (Jung 2013). One of the moral issues that have raised many debates in society is the issue of tattoos. Tattoos are permanently inscribed writings or pictures in the human beings. Many people get tattoos for a variety of reasons one being that a person may get a picture of a lost loved one inscribed in his skin as an act of remembrance.

Others get tattoos for the sole reason of enjoyment and fashion. This is the main reason that many teenagers get tattoos (Blair 2007). The utilitarian theory states that an action that leads to happiness is a proper action. Many people derive happiness and pleasure when getting tattoos. The utilitarian theory, therefore, would support the issue of getting tattoos because a person might derive happiness upon getting tattoos.

A person is aware that a tattoo is a permanent mark that will stay with him until his demise (Blair 2007). This fact means that before a person gets a tattoo, he is ready to live with the consequences that the mark will be there with him until he passes on. The utilitarian theory holds that a person should be ready to accept the consequences of his action, therefore it would be in the support the idea of a person getting a tattoo because the person knows of the consequence i.e. the tattoo will be a permanent mark in his body. There is no proof that getting a tattoo directly or indirectly affects other people. A tattoo will only affect the person who has the tattoo. This fact is in accordance to the theory of utilitarianism because a tattoo is a personal mark that has the potential to bring happiness to a person (Taylor 2008). It is also a fact that a tattoo is a personal message to the person who has it inscribed in his skin.

The Christian Bible holds that it is an act of sin to get permanent markings in one’s body. This is because the Bible states that the body is a temple of the lord (Jung 2013). It is therefore wrong, according to the Bible, for a person to get tattoos. The utilitarian theory gives the general principles of moral judgment in that a person’s sense and instincts informs him of what is right or wrong. A person might have a moral instinct that getting a tattoo is not necessarily wrong and this will prompt the individual to get a tattoo. The theory of utilitarianism holds that right, wrong, truth and falsehood is a question of observation and experience and should be deduced from principles. This may support the idea that getting a tattoo is not wrong.


Works cited

Blair, Lorrie. “Tattoos & Teenagers: An Art Educator’s Response.” Art Education 60.5 (2007): 39-44. ProQuest. Web. 3 May 2013.

Jeremy, Bentham. Utilitarianism. S.l.: Bibliobazaar, Llc, 2009. Print.

Jung, Patricia B, and L S. Jung. Moral Issues and Christian Responses. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013. Print.

Taylor, Stephen Craig. “John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism and Liberalism as Virtue and Character.” Bryn Mawr College, 2008. United States — Pennsylvania: ProQuest. Web. 3 May 2013.


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