The main basis behind this theory is that an act can be considered to be good or bad depending on the amount of people it is able to help against the number of people who may be inconvenienced so to speak by that same act. In short it can be said that the theory tends to focus on the greater good capacity of an act when determining whether the subject matter is to be considered good or detrimental towards the society (Bykvist, 2009). This is clearly seen in Jeremy Bentham’s claim that it is actually the largest happiness from the biggest number of people that can be considered to be the measure of right and wrong. To put it simply, whether an act is good or not is determined upon the maximization of that utility in question. Something can be considered to be good or bad based on whether it brings more good or bad as an end result.
This theory can be said to be both supported and contradicted by a number of nursing and healthcare practices. This can be explained by the diversity of the healthcare sector which means that hardly any two cases are exactly the same thus there are times when the theory may apply to healthcare practices while at other times it does not (Bykvist, 2009). A good example of a healthcare practice that supports this theory is the action of quarantining an individual with a contagious disease. Though such a move may be considered reclusive and even impersonal as the person is kept away from family and friends or any other support system to help them get through such hard times, it is for the greater good that it is done as allowing them contact with others may prove deadly to those who remain uninfected. A practice that may not fit into the greater good system would be the elimination of a ground zero subject who is putting other people at risk as the code of ethics does not support murder under any circumstance. In this instance the greater good is not enough to justify such an act.
Two sections of the ANA Code of Ethics