The Theory of Utilitarianism Essay Example
As individuals, people are destined to pursue the emotional feeling of happiness. However, happiness may only be found through actions and consequences. The art of choice is what creates happiness. Determining the individuals consequences is described by the theory of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is simply defined by what actions will create the best utility or happiness. At times however this choice can be extremely hard. In the example of the train situation, you have two choice of either to kill one person and save five lives or let the train takes its course and kill the five workers by saving the one life. From a utilitarianism perspective, one would argue to save the five lives thus killing the single life in order to maximize utility.
A utilitarian would argue pulling the lever to save five lives over one is the best choice due to the consequence and outcome. This situation may seem to be a very hard choice, however if one were to decipher the entire setting from a utilitarianism perspective, it only makes sense to pull the lever by saving five lives and killing one. To understand the reasoning for this decision, you must consider the facts as Hare describes utilitarianism is based on numbers.
Following this ideology, you have a choice to do nothing so save one life or pull the lever and kill one life by saving five. As a utilitarian, one would argue to pull the lever in order to maximize the utility of situation. As Mill describes, utilitarianism is formed around the ideology an individual makes their choice based on the fact what consequence produces the most utility or happiness by the following the Greatest Happiness Principle. From this perspective, a bystander would conclude to pull the lever to save the five lives which would in turn maximize the utility of the situation for the greater good and numbers of people considering the reasoning of standard consequentialism.
The philosophy of utilitarianism
The philosophy of utilitarianism utilizes the consequences of the situation in order to justify the action. Within the case of the train, the individual has one choice to make. However this judgment is dependent on the lives of the 6 workers on the track. For this reason, one must consider the deliberation process of utilitarianism. If one were just to examine this scene in terms of lives being the same as numbers, the obvious choice is to increase utility by saving five lives. In spite of this, there is a strong sense of constraint for the individual that is caused by his or her action to switch the track.
Many questions arise from this standpoint. Is it morally right to change the course of the train when that one could potentially have been innocence and it was not his choice to be on that track? What if the five workers were criminals and the one you choose to kill over the five was a father? From these questions gathered one must fully ask themselves to consider if the ends really justify the means and to what extent. For this reasoning, a utilitarian must prohibit all considerations of moral beliefs of what is right and wrong fro, their action and if the workers were good or bad people. Instead they must constrain themselves to solely make their choices from facts and the utility that is maximized from their actions through the deliberation process.
The justification of utilitarian calculus is depended on the situation of the individuals consequences. Utilitarianism can be seen to have true potential for certain circumstances. It allows the individual to solely base their decisions from the gratification of utility. The greater good is thus considered to have the strongest pull on the individuals choice. For this reason calculating utility can be beneficial and justified for certain situations like the train example. However there are large loopholes within utilitarianism making it hard validate this philosophy, forcing one to disagree. Consider the organ donor idea in which a healthy patents is in a hospital with five other sick patients. The doctor realizes that he could transplant the organs form the singular healthy patient to the five sick patents but the healthy patient will then die. If he doesn’t do the transplants all five individuals will die and the healthy patient will live on, this situation involves the same amount of lives as the train example however there feels as though there would be something wrong with killing the innocent healthy patient.
This is the objection to utilitarianism that can make its reasoning unjustifiable. Utilitarian calculation makes it impossible to consider ethical means since it solely focuses on numbers that are applicable to the greater good of society. Due to this objection, one would disagree with a utilitarian. Ethical values and beliefs ingrained within the mentality of all individuals thus making it unthinkable to just ignore them. If utilitarianism was consider to be prevalent in all situations, practices such as slavery could still be accepted because it benefits the greater good and maximizes utility. In present day society, slavery is understood as a horrid practice due to the fact it opposes moral and ethical values. For this reasoning utilitarianism cannot be applied to all situations with in society.
Utilitarianism is a strong ideology guided by facts and numbers. A utilitarian seeks to choose their consequences based on the greater good and larger standards number of people. Utility calculus seeks one sole purpose that is to maximize happiness. Utilitarians allows for individuals to justify their consequences for some situations to a certain extent. However the flaw that lays within utilitarianism is the sole fact all ethical values must be neglected when making a choice. A utilitarian bases their judgment of off number instead of monaural beliefs making it almost impossible to apply this ideology to all societal situations that involve real individuals.