Justice, Rights, and Backward Thinking Versus Utilitarianism: Opinion Essay

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Utilitarianism is the right action is the one that brings about the most overall happiness. This basically means a person makes a decision based on what he or she will have the most positive outcome. One should be an agent for their own happiness. Many decisions people do daily are for selfish reasons anyway. Right actions are the ones that produce good according to Utilitarianism. There are three ideas that attack Utilitarianism which is justice, rights, and backward thinking. McCloskey uses the example in the case of justice were in a negro area an African American raped a white woman. Since the rape happened riots will begin. Riots will cause violence causing many people to get hurt. So, in order to stop the riots, the man could lie and say he say the African American rape the woman. This man would bear false witness to stop the riots. According to Utilitarianism since this would stop the riots lying is the best outcome and would produce the most overall happiness. According to McCloskey, there is some obvious fault to it. The McCloskey case according to page 117 in The Element of Moral Philosophy is where a utilitarian tried to incriminate the innocent man in order to stop the riots. By telling this lie this would only have bad outcomes or consequences. The lie could be found out and the situation would worsen for the person. Or if the lie does work then the real person would not be found. An example would be accusing the wrong person. Say back then with lynching if you lie then a person might die, and the right person would never be found. If the lie is found out, then you could die for lying. It could hurt an innocent man in the process. It begs the question for Utilitarianism on if someone is trying to pick the best outcome of how she or he will know what the best consequence or outcome is. In The Element of Moral Philosophy, it states at the end of the McCloskey case utility us not served by framing an innocent man. Utilitarianism’s response is act Utilitarianism. Act Utilitarianism is when an act is trying to promote the maximum general happiness. Act Utilitarianism’s advantages are that it is objective. It doesn’t focus on the individual and make it impartial. It depends on the circumstances and it is flexible with the type of situation that is present. Act Utilitarianism uses the hedonic calculus which is how determines how much pain and pleasure will happen because of the action presented. Hedonic calculus says things are good and bad only in terms of how they make us feel. Using act Utilitarianism will cause the person to find the fairest result. The disadvantage to this are by using pleasure it won’t solve the problem. Hedonic calculus doesn’t prioritize the different types of pleasure which could lead to confusion. The book uses the example a friend says back stuff behind your back. You do not know about it, so it doesn’t make you unhappy. So, nothing is wrong with that according to hedonic calculus. Humans also want other things other than happiness and pleasure. Like love and creativity is example the book uses. The calculus could justify immoral acts such as the example McCloskey gives. Using act Utilitarianism would cause the person to testify against an innocent man. It only considers the result from the single act. Rule utilitarianism is a form of utilitarianism that argues that you should focus on general rules that everyone should follow to bring out the greatest good. Rule utilitarianism doesn’t focus on the individual act. In this circumstance lying would promote happiness. The advantages of rule utilitarianism are that seeks to maximize the happiness of society as a whole and doesn’t want people pursuing personal pleasure. Rule Utilitarianism also allows for impartially. For example, say a stranger needed help and a friend needed help. People are able to be more impartial to someone he or she knows. Opposed to Act Utilitarianism with says there should be no impartiality. A friend and a stranger are on the same level to you personally. Another advantage for rule utilitarianism is that is more likely to have justice and rights then opposed to act utilitarianism. The disadvantage of rule utilitarianism is many people say it is the same as act utilitarianism. Both these utilitarianisms say to maximize happiness in somewhat similar ways. Rule utilitarianism allows states you should follow in accordance with the rule that provides the best outcome. Sometimes that rule isn’t the best outcome.

Kant believes and states that only actions performed by duty have moral value. By inclination alone, Kant says that has no moral value. Goodwill is the only thing that is good in and of itself according to Kant. Duties are what is morally the right thing to do and taking yourself out of the equation as having a moral duty or obligation to do such an act. The example Kant gives is when the buyer sets the same price for everyone. That way everyone has equal opportunity and it is a duty to the people. Another example of duty is the law. Law has a certain standard everyone has to follow. This is why duty has moral value. When acting from duty also has moral value because it is objective. These duties are normally morally right. Inclination is more acting out of pleasure which makes it has no moral worth. I agree that everything should be equal, and everyone should have an equal opportunity. Sometimes acting out of inclination will get you where you want in life. Acting out of duty just makes it more like pity and not worth it. People won’t help you or do anything in life because he or she wants to. They will do it because it is their duty. That is more selfishness if anything. Say your friend ask you a favor and you don’t want to help them. But it is your duty to help. That more pity and just not morally right.

Anscombe’s view states that killing innocents as a means to ends is murder which is wrong. Anscombe’s and Kant’s view is a form of non-consequentialism. Non-consequentialism states that some acts or things may not be done no matter the consequences of the act of thing. Consequentialists say anything can be broken under the right circumstances. According to Kant right acts are ones that follow rules that are universal. By universal Kant means that it is not self-defeating, reversible, and consistently applied. Kant’s example is cutting in line and you can’t make expectations. Whatever you do to someone else then it is okay from them to do it back to you. With the atomic bomb Anscombe thought Truman was a murderer and not justified. Anscombe said killing innocents as a means to an end is always murder. Anscombe faced many criticisms stating that this bomb saved more lives and that her analogy was void. Anscombe said that there is an ethical problem with the atomic bomb and people didn’t face the consequences of these actions. My view on this even though some things are wrong, but circumstances do matter. With the atomic bomb if America didn’t do it first then most likely more lives would have been lost. What Anscombe fails to mention is the innocent lives Pearl Harbor cost. Those were many innocent lives lost, so isn’t fighting back warranted. Anscombe says some acts can’t be done no matter the consequences. Say Britain, where Anscombe is from, didn’t fight back. Anscombe would have died is that okay then? Because her life is an innocent life too, so the consequences were worth it. Circumstances always matter.

Kantianism ranks close with morality and it related to morality thorough categorical imperative. Categorical imperative is a moral obligation no matter the circumstances and follows universal law. Which means it is the duty to help a person no matter what. With morality, we are supposed to help people. Universal law is laws to be followed at all times. Morality has an obligation to help people and should be followed. Kantianism also opposes lying which follows with morality. There are flaws that don’t match up with morality. Sometimes lying is the best option. According to the Rachels we can’t always know our consequences to our actions. Sometimes we have no moral obligation to help. Utilitarianism is to maximize happiness. Morality is deciding between what is morally wrong and right. I would rank Utilitarianism similar to morality in both are trying to bring happiness. Morality doing the right action produces happiness in most everyday life. Utilitarianism is trying to bring more happiness than pain in this world. Utilitarianism does differ from morality is sometimes what produces happiness isn’t the right action morally. Determining what is morally right is sometimes hard to decide in Utilitarianism.

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Utilitarianism for punishment is that we should punish the offenders to stop future crimes or problems arising. Retributivist would say to punish the offenders because the offender deserves it. Utilitarianism says we should base our actions on maximizing overall happiness. Since punishment doesn’t promote happiness it shouldn’t be used really. But Utilitarianism knows that can’t happen so the punishment should be limited. We shouldn’t cause maximum punishment to others. For example, if a prisoner is sick or ill then the prisoner should be released because he or she cannot harm to society. Punishment should just be used to stop crimes from happening. If people know how bad the punishment is he or she is less likely to do it. And say one does commit a crime he or she is less likely to do it again cause he or she knows the outcome. Utilitarianism also believes in rehabilitation as punishment. It gives the ability for one to succeed without being in prison. For example, a mentally ill person committing a crime. Prison won’t help the mentally ill, but rehab might be able to help. Rehab also gives skills to help prisoners succeed outside. The retributivist view of capital punishment is more on the balance of society. Humans have free will and can make their own decisions. A person who makes the conscious decision to kill someone should have the death penalty. One life for another. My view is that the punishment should fit the crime. We shouldn’t cause maximum punishment in one’s life. In my position having someone serve life it more beneficial than having them put to death. The system doesn’t always work how it is supposed to. My two strong reasons for why the death penalty shouldn’t be allowed is because there are alternate solutions besides death and it does not provide justice. The death penalty isn’t always the answer. Taking someone’s life shouldn’t be in the hands of another. When someone does murder someone, it can depend on the situation. For example, say someone was jaywalking down the street and I didn’t see them and ran them over. If I accidentally killed the person does that mean I should be put to death? I am more on the Utilitarianism side in this situation in that maximum punishment isn’t the answer. For example, what do we do with people with mental illnesses that kill someone? Is it right to take their life when he or she doesn’t know what they are doing? There is also rehabs and parole as solutions. People can change and see that prison isn’t a place where he or she wants to be. My other reason is it doesn’t always provide justice. For example, what if the wrong man is convicted and put to death. The justice system is flawed and doesn’t always catch the right person. Condemning an innocent man doesn’t provide justice and is why capital punishment shouldn’t exist. On challenging and opposing view of why the death penalty exists is because of the saying eye for an eye. People want what was done to them to happen to another. For example, say a little girl was murder. She had a family and her whole life ahead of her and doesn’t get to have that life anymore. It is only fair that since she didn’t get to live her life the murderer doesn’t get to either. This relates more to the retributivist theory in that it brings a balance to society. The eye for an eye doesn’t always hold in society. For example, say someone robs you. You wouldn’t go and rob them back. Sometimes sending someone to the death penalty doesn’t always hold to common sense. Sometimes having life in prison is more of a just punishment in society. He or she who committed murder is going to be able to reflect on their mistakes for the rest of their lives. Putting someone on death row also has some irony to it. The person that condemns someone for murdering someone is invertible murdering someone else as well. How does that make you better than the criminal if you sentence the criminal to death as well? The death penalty just promotes more violence. The system is just fighting evil with evil. The consequences of the death penalty also can hurt others in the process. The family of the person on death row also suffers even though the family didn’t do anything. Compassion and rehabilitation are more justice and helps solve more problems in society then the death penalty in the long run.

I wouldn’t abort according to my views. My views with down syndrome is that a life is a life. You chose to have sex and by doing so the outcomes falls on you. I have always thought people have to own up to his or her choices. He or she can’t just decide which baby he or she wants. You don’t get to choose your pick of the litter. It would be like comparing a baby to a dog. It isn’t the baby’s fault it was born that way or your fault. If the parents chose to have kids, then the parents choose to have the baby they are going to have. Having a baby with down syndrome doesn’t affect the world in a negative way. It causes no suffering to anyone else. It isn’t a disease that can spread from one child to another. The child can still live a happy life and so can you. The child isn’t in pain constantly or dying like other conditions. Giving birth to a baby with down syndrome doesn’t cause risks to the mother. What should I do according to morals is to keep the baby. Morality is determining what is right and wrong. Killing is considered morally wrong. In this circumstance aborting the baby would be wrong. Society would consider it to be okay to abort this baby. The morally objectionable side or the counter argument is that it is the women’s choice if she wants this baby. If the woman does not want to have a baby with down syndrome it is her right to abort the baby. There is a certain stigma to down syndrome babies that most people don’t want to face. These children cause more of a burden to the family in certain ways. For example, it is more financial straining to have a baby with down syndrome because the parents would need to support that child for most of its life.

The virtue theory is how one should act that leads to what kind of a person he or she should be. A virtuous person expresses certain virtues not just once but many times. If the person uses those virtues continually this will make his or her character. For example, in the book it says a person tells the truth in habitual action. The person doesn’t just tell the truth once. The person’s honesty is part of his or her character. The person’s character is what creates their morals and ethics. It is what causes them to think critically on situations. A virtue is showing high moral standards. When a person thinks virtuously he or she doesn’t think about the consequences. A person just thinks on the right action to do. Some of the examples in the book that it provides on virtues are courage, generosity, honesty, and patience. In the situation of the down syndrome baby, the virtue theory would be applied in that the person would keep the baby. Virtuous people lead better lives in the long run. It can also depend on the character of the person. There are bad virtues. Aborting this baby could be a part of bad virtues.

Utilitarianism has conflicting views on abortion. Utilitarianism states to maximize happiness. Utilitarianism is based on individual events or on an individual person. In this case with down syndrome, it is completely up to the mother to decide on the baby. If the mother thinks it will maximize happiness, then she would abort. If the mother thinks keeping the baby maximizes happiness she will keep it. It depends on the circumstances surrounding the mother in her environment. For example, money would be a factor in this decision. The views of the mother would also be a factor. For example, if the mother is catholic or not would be a factor. In this case, Utilitarianism focused on long term consequences. It is hard to see the long-term consequences in this case. Utilitarianism also could be against abortion due to the feeling of pleasure and pain. The ability to give life and have a child is a good thing which provides pleasure. On the other hand, a baby could cause pain as well. In this case, the financial burden could cause pain, but the child could cause the parent’s pleasure resulting in happiness. Utilitarianism sees the pain as only temporary. On page 121 in The Elements of Moral Philosophy, it says Utilitarianism justifies common sense. All the values that Utilitarianism has hold common sense according to Utilitarianism. Common sense is this case could be having the child over choosing an abortion due to values. Utilitarianism states all that matters are determining if the act is right or wrong and its consequences. Only happiness or unhappiness of the act is all that matters. Utilitarianism doesn’t believe in killing. In this case, would it be categorized as killing? This case is very difficult to see if it right or wrong. There are arguments for both sides.

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Justice, Rights, and Backward Thinking Versus Utilitarianism: Opinion Essay. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/justice-rights-and-backward-thinking-versus-utilitarianism-opinion-essay/
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