The purpose of this page is to provide a list of many problems in the world that are of concern to a utilitarian. While suffering of even one individual is of concern to a utilitarian, when there are systematic society-wide acts or policies that cause suffering to thousands if not millions of individuals, the problem is of comparably bigger concern.
Some problems on the list may be difficult to solve even for officials in government; others would simply not exist if more people, or even just the politicians were more utilitarian in their thinking and acted on the basis of the moral theory.
The list is currently in no particular order. The variety of severity of problems listed is not meant to belittle any of them.
- Incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders
- Low number of post-death organ donations
Over 100,000 people are waiting in line for organ transplants in the US while there are about 2.5 million of deaths in the US per year. Organs are of no use to decomposing humans while they could alleviate much suffering (and financial burden) on those waiting for transplants.
More than 1 billion people live on less than $1/day.
- Premature deaths
These can occur due to consumption of tobacco, poor health, alcohol, etc List of Preventable Causes of Death
- Neglected Tropical Diseases
NTDs affect over 1 billion of the world's population and are often extremely cheap to treat.
It is estimated that malaria causes 250 million cases of fever and approximately one million deaths annually.
- Suffering of animals raised in inhumane ways
Because of the number of animals involved, this is arguably a problem worse than the total suffering of humans. This suffering is occurring on a grand-scale due to the way animals are commonly treated when raised for human consumption in factory farms.
- Suffering of animals in the wild
Because of the number of animals involved, under some calculations this is one of the biggest causes of suffering for sentient beings living on earth. The suffering comes from parasites as well as some predators.
- Existential Risks
- Suffering of artificial intelligence
- If computers will one day become sentient and thus will be capable of experiencing pain, it is conceivable that numerous first attempts at building such computers would lead to conscious states that no individual would prefer to experience (leading to great disutility).
- See "A few dystopic future scenarios," including the sections on sentient simulations and suffering subroutines.