Have you heard the news about the moral dilemma of self-driving car? It’s a car with an AI programmed to forfeit its travelers to spare the lives of others, in case of a genuine mishap. It works on the principle of utilitarian morals, which would try to limit the total number of casualties in an accident, regardless of whether it implies hurting individuals in the vehicle (Gent). As describe by John Stuart Mill utilitarianism is the view that dictates an action is right or wrong by looking at the net out-come of the action (Schefczyk). Or in other word if the action you have taken results in happiness then the action is said to be the right one and if it doesn’t then the action is a wrong. We all can agree that our final goal is to be happy and not to be any pain and to achieve that goal, according to utilitarianism, the path we take cannot solely be define as right or wrong. Some people might agree with it and some might not but it doesn’t mean one of them is wrong because we don’t study philosophy to argue who is right or who is not but to understand the meaning of it logically and implement it to our daily life. If you ask me what’s my opinion on it, I disagree with the concept of utilitarianism because causing one to suffer for the shake of other is wrong, killing anyone for greater good is never justified, and using peoples’ life as a mere means to achieve one’s goal is also wrong. To prove my statement, I’ll be using characters from the literature and show how utilitarianism is not an ethical doctrine.
In the short story by Ursula K. Le Guin The one who walk away from Omelas, though the action yields a happiness for majority of people, they still didn’t consider it to be a right course of action. In this story, Le Guin portrays the idealistic city of Omelas during the celebration of summer. The city is portrayed as the ideal place where one can get what they need and everybody living in this city are upbeat aside from one kid. This youngster is browsed from the populace to fill in as a sacrifice enabling the remaining of the city to live in harmony and bounty. The child is put in a little, austere room having little to eat and is totally cut off from whatever remains of society aside from the short visits from the individuals who come to the child. At the point when the subject of that city finds out about the enduring the youngster is experiencing for the harmony and bliss of every other person, they are not any more prepared to do genuine joy and they in the long run leave on singular adventure into the obscure and stay away for the indefinite future. (Lee). So, let’s think about it, if you were the one living in the city of Omelas and you come to know about the child locked up in the dungeon for the sake of your happiness will you still live in that city knowing the child is suffering for your happiness? I hope probably not. And if you did decide to leave the city like rest of the citizen, so that the child can live a happy life or you don’t want the happiness gain by the sorrow of others’ than you are going against the main concept of utilitarianism which state sacrificing something for the greater good is justified or the action is right if the outcome brings happiness.
In the DC comic about Batman, Batman follows a strong code of molarity where he believes killing is not justified no matter how great an outcome it might harvest. Every one of us have either read or watch the Batman movie and we know who Batman is and how he saved the city of Gotham from the evils many times. I’ll be just highlighting the main point in here like though Batman had several chances to kill the Joker, he never kills him, all he does is throw Joker back in Arkham because Batman has his own rule of ethics that he follows (Snyder). And we even know no matter how many times Batman locks the Joker, he eventually escapes and kills innocent citizen and when he does, won’t it be a little bit of Batman’s fault? If Batman did killed Joker then is greater good a good enough reason to take a life and who gets to decide whose life is justified to take and whose not? Like me, Batman too doesn’t believe in the idea of utilitarianism because it’s true if Batman had killed the Joker it would have yield greater happiness but by killing Joker, Batman believed that he too will falls in the same boat as the bad guys. To quote Batman: “If you kill a killer, the amount of killers in a room remains the same”. And also, Batman teach us that we don’t have the right to weigh human lives like objects, not even the Joker’s. Similar situation has been portraited by Fyodor Dostoevsky on his book Crime and Punishment where one of his character says “If you killed her and took her money, and used it to devote yourself to serving all humanity and the common good … wouldn’t those thousands of good deeds wipe out that one tiny little crime?” (Dostoevsky 60). And if you believed Batman should had killed Joker as he is a villain and save the thousands of innocent people do you also think Raskolnikov should also killed the old lady and use the money to serve for the humanity?
In the Berserk manga written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura, Griffith used his comrade as a mere mean to achieve his dream which his own friend, Guts, believes to be a wrong action. The setting of this manga is in the time of medieval where war has been broken in all corners of the world. In this manga one of the characters, Griffith, has a dream of creating a kingdom of peace where none of his citizen has to worry about starving to dead or dying as a collateral damage of the war. To achieve his dream, he at the end sacrifice all his friends and the love ones who fought beside him during all the battels to the devil (Miura). If you think about it, Griffith had a noble dream of creating a peaceful country in a world where everyone is fighting for the territory, but the path he took, sacrificing the life of all his friends, would you call the path he took the right path to achieve one’s dream? Hopefully not because using peoples’ life as just a mere means of archiving one’s goal is ethically wrong.
In conclusion, consequences have a place, and should be considered, however we should also consider other standards like human rights, and what our decisions and judgments say in regards to us. Morality is about more than the consequences of our actions, it is also about the action itself so it’s important to judge the action by itself to determine whether it a right course or not. If consequences is only the thing that matter than the self-driving cars with utilitarian algorithms should be universally enforce and there should not be any dilemma. Therefore, utilitarianism is not always a right code of ethics for us to follow. There are lots of other ethical principle and its up to the individual to choose which principle is best of them and also consider its advantages and disadvantages.