Free Essay in Philosophy: Utilitarianism in The One Who Walks Away from Omelas

Published: 2022-04-20
Free Essay in Philosophy: Utilitarianism in The One Who Walks Away from Omelas
Type of paper:  Critical thinking
Categories:  Philosophy American literature
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1153 words
10 min read

Utilitarianism is a concept that can be described using various definitions. The primary motive and idea of utilitarianism are that actions are justified to be right or wrong depending on the kind of impact they make to the majority. In simple terms, if a response results in happiness and peace to the majority of people, then that act is justified to be morally right. On the other hand, if an action results in trouble, sorrow or any other unpleasant and harmful attribute, the act is termed to be morally wrong. In Utilitarianism, the majority are left to rule on what is right orwrong based on the outcomes of actions. "In the One Who Walks Away from Omelas" by Ursula Le Guin, traits of utilitarianism are seen drawing findings from what the Omelas practice regarding justifying happiness and comfort among the people.

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Various fundamental concepts revolve around Utilitarianism. Happiness, peace, and pleasure are the dominant factor where the idea is highly evident. As Guin indicates, the Omelas people like and dwell in merry modes of happiness. "quiet, merry women carrying their babies and chatting as they walked.... And the people went dancing"(Le Guin 1) Hedonism is a concept relating to Utilitarianism that depicts "good" as happiness and pleasure (Nathanson 2). As long as something yields satisfaction in the end. In a social setting like that of Omelas, people decide what is right for them, the things that bring about joy and peace are highly valued. Some concepts may be immoral, but just because they make people happy, Utilitarianism still claims that those are good. In Omelas, girls and boys were naked with the aim of achieving happiness yet such an act can be termed as immoral (Le Guin 1).

Another concept that entails utilitarianism among the Omelas people is freedom (Nathanson 3). There is no political movement does not guide the people of Omelas stay, they do not have a king or an army. In short, the law is at their hands. They do what they feel is right to do. "But there was no king. They did not use swords or keep slaves. They were not barbarians." The main idea is that Omelas people enjoyed living in a state with no rule of authority and maximum freedom to execute their actions (Le Guin 2). Nothing governed the way of life in the Omelas city. There is nothing that had been left to justify actions morally apart from Utilitarianism. Priest involves in sex with anyone and orgies were allowed just to make people feel good. Utilitarianism does not justify works because of how they are or done but by the outcome. To them having sex with priests would bring pleasure in the end even though the action itself is moral decay.

The primary key contributor to the happiness and the pleasure amongst the Omelas people is the sacrifice of the young child. Omelas people lock up a child in a desolate place where he receives no care. The aspect of Utilitarianism is evidently seen in this scenario. The child is locked away in a dark room yet he has done nothing wrong meaning it cannot be termed as a punishment. Omelas people believe that locking up away one soul brings joy to the majority and prevents sorrow on them too. If the child would be released, then the city would be left in ruins or chaos. These facets relate to what Utilitarianism dictates about the discomfort of one person suffering for the benefit of the majority (Nathanson 4). Making the boy suffer brings joy to them, and that is not questionable. Utilitarianism does not argue by logics and normality as seen in this case, locking up the child is wrong and immoral. As long as the well-being of the majority of the society is achieved then acts and decisions are okay and justified(Kelly 29).

The state that the child was kept in was evidently horrifying. "It is feeble-minded. Perhaps it was born defective or perhaps it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition, and neglect." This child is mistreated, and yet people are aware of it and where it stays. By placing the kid in torture or a state of punishment is seen to prevent the suffering of the majority and that is the people of Omelas. As Utilitarianism rules, a good action is the one bearing in mind the perspective of the majority. In other words, practicing or executing acts that favor the "big number." Self-interest, as well as personal or individual concern, is not applicable in Utilitarianism. The suffering of the small kid, malnutrition, isolation, and fear were not viable reasons to justify freedom for the kid. Utilitarianism argues against the basis of what humanism advocates for. In other words, emotional consideration and acknowledgment if a human being is not seen in the way the child is treated. Humanism argues that the life of any human being is essential and valuable (Herrick 13). Unlike what the perception of Utilitarianism, humanism prefers evidence and use of critical thinking. Viewing the same scenario using these two facets, will give different results as diverse viewpoints will be arrived at. Humanism approves ethicalness (Herrick 17). In the case of this kid, the decision of locking it away did not involve any traits of critical thinking as the same would consider care, the value of human life and the adverse effects of being in such a situation. What all the people of Omelas want is to stay happy and in peace regardless the cost.

Utilitarianism does not accept a judgment to be good or bad by actual consequences. This factor is evident especially when the results differ from what people were expecting. In Omelas cases, some people are well aware of the child`s oppression and the rule by which the Omelas people live under. They cannot raise concerns even though they are disturbed by that factor; instead, they choose to walk away. "They go on, they leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back" (Le Guin 4).

In a nutshell, the narration depicts the dominance of Utilitarianism among the people of Omelas. Their happiness is founded on the oppression of one human being where they lock up a child to suffer to prevent suffering holistically to the entire society. As Utilitarianism states, their actions are not judged on what they do or practice but, on the fact, that they yield happiness and peace among the majority in Omelas city. They engage in specific behaviors and do not put to value moral uprightness of their actions but instead focus on the outcomes. Even when there a few people who appreciate morals, they tend to walk away since they are the minority in the city.

Work Cited

Nathanson, Stephen. "Act and Rule Utilitarianism." (2014).

Le Guin, Ursula K. The Ones who Walk Away from Omelas. Creative Education, 1993.

Herrick, Jim. Humanism: An Introduction. Prometheus Books, 2003.

Kelly, Jamie. "Libertarian paternalism, utilitarianism, and justice." (2013).

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