Philosophical Counseling: Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism focuses itself with the outcomes or the implications. There is no defined distinction between what is good and what is bad; the concern is on the circumstances and the results. What could be acceptable in a particular situation could be unacceptable at some alternative place. It emphasizes that if the net outcome of the decision is an enhancement in the happiness of the majority, the decision is the perfect one. In this scenario where the Joker kidnaps Andy’s mother and gives Andy a choice: one of them being either killing Andy’s mother or killing 150 convicted pedophiles. The dilemma for Andy is what he should choose.
By applying utilitarianism in resolving the above mentioned dilemma, it is important to understand that utilitarianism is an ethical structure that considers an individual as valueless except in so far as this person could in some instances help in Utilitarianism’s dystopian idea of the world. If the finest way for a person (Andy’s mother) to contribute to utility is to die, then it is morally perfect to let that happen. Therefore Andy has a moral duty to let the Joker kill his mother and save the 150 convicted pedophiles because it brings happiness to the majority. According to Fried (10), in spite of being normally critical of utilitarianism, concurs that if the cost of failure to do so were grave enough, killing an innocent individual(Andy’s mother) may be justified –and it could be fixation to claim otherwise(Friend 10).
My resolution will be wrong if I apply deontology. Deontological ethics is in aligning with, natural moral law, scripture as well as instincts of common sense. It will be morally wrong for Andy to let the Joker kill an innocent person (his mother) and spare the convicts. According to Deontological ethics, repercussions are not what makes the act correct, as is advocated in utilitarianism. Rather, at best, repercussions assists us establish which action is more in aligning with what is supposed to be our duty (Andy to protect his mother). Repercussions assist us in indentifying what is our duty, as opposed to what makes something our duty.
Secondly my resolution will also be wrong if I apply virtue ethics. Whereas utilitarianism is a virtue ethic, focused on what kind of an individual one should be as opposed to what one ought to do, an individual’s actions is essentially an ingredient of what one is. Andy cannot be a good individual without part of him in some form being reflected in what he does (choosing between the convicts and the mother) or at least tries to do. No discussion of being an individual of a particular kind permits one to avoid the question; Is it ever appropriate to allow serious injury or death to an innocent individual (Andy’s mother) so as to avoid even bigger harm?
Sterba(176) cites Bernard Williams in his censure of utilitarianism, proposing a scenario in which a little minority resides in a bigger society in which, the other citizens have such injustices that they realize the scene of this group, or even the facts of its existence, very unlikable. He continues to suggest that a utilitarian technique could well end up advocating for forced ejection of the minority, particularly if the minority were rather insignificant and the majority were very seriously discriminated, meaning, were made very seriously uncomfortable by the existence of the minority (Sterba 176).
I do not think the resolution provided by utilitariasm theory is satisfactory. Discussions regarding the pros of utilitarianism in most case elicit intuitive opinions of morally notable circumstances. For example, pushing a readily available individual into the route of a runaway bulldozer, so as to stop it from ten workmen repairing the track in front of it, seems to be devastatingly inappropriate, to a level where majority of people will concur to the opinion that it is wrong to do so even if numerous lives are saved in the process.
It is wrong to disregard such views as just emotional reactions, or to incorporate moral intuition together emotional reactions to moral circumstances. Moral intuitions are instant opinions of morality, and devoid of them no moral assessment will be attainable. Ethics cannot begin with evaluation; it requires subject matter for evaluation. Ethical evaluation is an assessment of intuitions; and the intuitions ought to occur before assessment (Smart ; Bernard 42).
In utilitarian opinion, what explains something as inappropriate is its harm, and something is appropriate in proportion to the good it produces, not in respect to individual acts, but in respect to the state of the world that comes out the action (or, else, inaction). There is no space in utilitarian perception for the view, nonetheless highly supported by very ordinary intuitions, that some things are incorrect despite the consequences.
Yet to indicate that something is always morally incorrect ought not to represent exactly the same thing as implying that something must not be done. There is no disagreement in implying that that killing one innocent individual (Andy’s mother) to save the 150 convicts is wrong; in the sense that the general raise of value does not cancel out the injustice done to that individual(Andy’s mother) and yet that it is morally acceptable to do so(LeBon 53).
Fried, Charles. Right and Wrong. Cambridge: Harvard University, 1978. Press.
LeBon, Tim. Wise Therapy: Philosophy for Counsellors. London: Continuum, 2001. Print.
Sterba, James P. Ethics: The Big Questions. Chichester, U.K: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Print.
Smart, J J. C, and Bernard A. O. Williams. Utilitarianism for and against. Cambridge. England: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Print.