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Utilitarianism and ethical dilemma

Utilitarianism is a tradition budding from the 18th and 19th century by English philosophers and economists JEREMY BENTHAM and JOHN STUART MILL. Jeremy Bentham made his own principles about utilitarianism and J.S Mills is educated according to Benthams principle and modified utility principle. The main principle of utilitarianism is right and at least not wrong. JEREMY BENTHAM (1748-1832) who is an English jurist, philosopher and economist is considered as the most influential contributor of the utilitarianism. According to him the utility principle is Greater good for greater number. JOHN STUART MILL (1806-1873), is also an English philosopher and exponent of utilitarianism. According to his modern principle of utilitarianism is stated as an action is right if it produces happiness and it is wrong if it produces wrong, where the whole community is being satisfied or dissatisfied. Principle is: greatest happiness for greater number. It is an effort to answer a practical question what ought a person to do? A person is indicated an expected state to produce best consequences. Jeremy Benthams principle is an action is approved or disapproved depending upon the tendency of more and less happiness among the whole community. Whereas according to J.S Mills modern utility principle which is called as greatest happiness principle is stated as a right action which produces more happiness of all the people around and it is wrong if people are unhappy.

Utilitarianism and ethical dilemma

Utilitarianism doesnt find anything wrong with injustice. It explains that the pleasure is obtained from the decisions made. When making a decision, a person has to choose an action that produces the ultimate pleasure that includes moral result and satisfies each and every individual. According to J.S Mills, being a dissatisfied human is far better than being a satisfied pig: better to be a Socrates dissatisfied than to be a satisfied fool. (J.S Mills, 1850) in his book human rights and slavery. Utilitarianism includes both good and bad consequences an act can produce. If the consequences obtained are not different, then utilitarianism does not regard the choice between them as moral issue. Mill classified an action to be good or bad if the occurring consequences are forced to act in preferably. Both Bentham and mill are Hedonists. They analyzed that pleasure is happiness where pain has to be subtracted. They believed that human actions are motivated by pleasure and pain. But leading utilitarian of late 19th century Henry Sedgwick, rejected both Bentham and mills theories stating that utilitarianism is the reflection on morality of common sense. He explained how utilitarianism solve difficulties which arouse from inconsistencies occurred due to common sense. There are two types of utilitarianism, act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism.

Utilitarianism and ethical dilemma

Act utilitarianism: it comes when a person has to choose an action from two or more actions, consider the most likely consequences and then choose to perform the action of what he believes. Performing this action gives more pleasure. An act can be derived by taking sum of total pleasure and subtracting total pain. He performs an act that benefits the society despite of his personal feelings or laws and rules. For example a man who sacrifices his life for a bus full of passengers who are in danger is fulfilling the principles of utilitarianism where all the society is benefited. The situation would have been worse if he acts selfish and personal feelings. Rule utilitarianism: It is kind of utilitarianism proposes us to use good or bad, right or wrong can be obtained by following certain rules or laws. The rules are followed for the benefit of the society. Utilitarian believe that these rules are never disobeyed. It is unlikely to ACT UTILITARIANISM. It says that everyone has to follow and obey certain rules in order to maintain a safer society. These rules should be followed without exception. Rule utilitarianism has broad analysis where certain rules have to be followed considering the effects of that action and universalize the action. HEDONIC CALCULUS Bentham proposed hedonistic utilitarianism where he stated that an action is performed by the people so as to satisfy the greatest pleasure. But he failed to explain how the pleasure is quantified. The pleasure cannot be compared to other actions to distinguish which action is ought to be performed. So he again proposed hedonic calculus listing

Utilitarianism and ethical dilemma

seven features which intensifies the pleasure. They are intensity, duration, certainty, propinquity, fecundity, purity, extent. Intensity: mild pleasure is always less compared to super satisfactory pleasure. So intensity of pleasure caused by an action is self-explained. Duration: duration is considered when explaining the nature of goodness of an action. Short term pleasure is less valuable than everlasting pleasure. Certainty: certainty refers to perfection, where it is the probability of pleasure obtained from an action. An action that causes more pleasure is preferred to action that causes minute possibility of pleasure. Propinquity: it means nearness or similarity. An action has to be chosen based on the nearness of attaining the pleasure. Fecundity: An action has to be chosen where it produces a state of happiness followed by more happiness. Similarly a situation where only one isolated state of happiness has been occurred. Then the former one is chosen. Purity: purity of pleasure and pain is determined by the situation where an action that causes only pleasure is more preferred to an action causes mixed proportion of pleasure an pain. Because both mixture of pleasure and pain diminishes the purity of an action.

Utilitarianism and ethical dilemma

Extent: this was added by Jason Stuart Mill. This is the formal criterion for qualifying the pleasure caused by an action. The pleasure enjoyed by more people in a community is always better. Strengths of utilitarianism: 1. Human being is always supported.
2. It encourages democracy. 3. Consequences of act affect both good and bad.

4. Majority always benefits. Weakness of utilitarianism: There are certain weaknesses because they failed to explain their predictions. 1. Consequences are difficult to predict. 2. The quantity of pleasure is difficult to define. 3. Weak are always suppressed. 4. Cannot predict whether consequences are good or bad. 5. It is inadequate because it sometimes violate rights of individuals.

The problems of consequences are the main problem of utilitarianism. It is difficult to predict what all the consequences the people in that community are going to be affected. These consequences are hard to predict, as sometimes we just do what we
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think at that moment. Also it is not sure that an action done out of good has good consequences. It always depends on attitude with which it is performed.

ETHICAL DILEMMA 1: The given ethical dilemma is whether to rescue either my niece or my daughter first. I would choose to rescue my niece and later I go to save my daughter. Because it is my responsibility to take her home safe as her parents trusted me and sent her with me. I would surely rescue my niece first as she is not a strong swimmer as my daughter do. Even though my daughter is struggling but she is strong enough to withstand for some more time till I rescue my niece and go back into water to save her. Moreover I am confident enough that I can save both of them even though there are many things going in my mind at that time. Meanwhile I would caution my daughter how to float in water by kicking her legs down wards. I also try to encourage her so that she doesnt lose her confident levels as confidence matters everything. After saving both of them I would give them proper medication.

It is also important that I took responsibility of my niece and if I lose her their family never forgive me. Even if I explain the situation they are never going to forgive me. This situation kills me inside as I dont want to stay guilty in front of anybody. Even if I lose my daughter that would be a great tragedy but I am sure that my family
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believes me and understands me very well than their family. I am even more confident that my family understands me better. DISCUSSION: Connecting this ethical dilemma to utilitarianism.. I should make guesses so as to affect the actions I am considering, estimating the levels of consequences to be happy. I know that there are many things revolve around my mind but I should be confident enough to save both of them. Recuing any one of them is a state of happiness and rescuing both of them is a state of happiness followed by more happiness as explained by Bentham in hedonic calculus. I try my best to save both of them and I even put my life to save them as my daughter is the one I love most in this world. Considering all these I have to make a fastest move to rescue both of them as soon as possible. Utilitarianism is the theory where happiness is more considered between happiness and pain. I even know that the theory completely disagree my decision but as a fellow human I would choose my niece as she is really struggling and seems to be in

more trouble and my daughter is strong enough. I personally feel that whatever you do for you dies with you but the things you do for others remains forever. Of course, the dilemma reflects the present society. Children these days are really not in a situation to listen to their parents. They look for their fun, pleasure and
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never care their parents words. Even though I warned them to play on the bank they ignored my words and started swimming in water. This is what happens in present society. Probably, the situation could be made more complicated and worse by replacing niece with a stranger. The situation is like both of them are struggling. One is your daughter and the other is a stranger. The stranger is really struggling and your daughter also struggling but it seems like she there is hope you can save her after saving the stranger.

Utilitarianism and ethical dilemma

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 1. By utilitarianismis affected by the conduct. Henry. S. (1874). The method of ethics, book IV, chapter I.
2. Mill. John. Stuart (1869). On liberty retrieved 1999, from

http://www.bartleby.com/130/.
3. The hedonic calculus. (2005). Retrieved from

http://www.moral philosophy.info/hedonic calculus.html.


4. Utilitarianism. (2011). In encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from

http://britannica.com/EB checked/ topic/701353/ utilitarianism http://britannica.com/EB checked/ topic/ 620682/ utilitarianism.


5. Utilitarianism. (2011). retrieved from

http://www.utilitarianism.com/utilitarianism.html.

ASSIGNMENT 1

Title: NAME: STUDENT NO. : SUBMITTED TO: DATE:

UTILITARIANISM AND ETHICAL DILEMMA PUSHPAGIRI NIKHIL. C 300602848 JENNA C. RITCHIE 17TH FEB, 2011.