According to his theory of utilitarianism, what would Mill tell the rescuer to do in Rescue I and Rescue II?
Utilitarianism is a theory of morality that advocates undertaking actions that foster happiness or pleasure and possess actions that can result in unhappiness or harm. The theory stands for the greatest good of the maximum possible number, even harming the minimum number of people. In rescues one and rescue 2, utilitarianism would focus on the results that would lead to the betterment of society as a whole. For rescue 1, Mill would tell the rescuers to focus on ensuring that most people are happy (ABUMERE 1). He would therefore urge them to run and rescue the five people and leave one person. This is since most people are in danger compared to one, hence meaning that the most suitable thing according to Mill, would be to leave one person to die and ensure that the majority, who are five, get rescued instead.
In rescue 2, Mill would suggest that most people get saved at the expense of the one person who will have to be run over. Despite him not being in danger, he will have to be sacrificed to ensure that the five others are rescued. According to Mill, utilitarianism is a principle that accepts t as the foundation of morals unity. It is the greatest happiness principle, which holds actions right in proportion, promoting happiness (ABUMERE 1). Happiness is an unimpeded pleasure and the absence of pain. In the two cases, it is manifest that Mill would have opted for one person to be unhappy but then ensure that the majority were safe and happy, which means that one had to be sacrificed for the joy of others. The other side of justification would mean rescuing one and then give up on the other five, which would have been unfair and a decision that would create unhappiness to the majority of the people.
According to his deontological theory, what would Kant tell the rescuer to do in Rescue I and Rescue II?
Kant’s Deontological theory is different from utilitarianism and would involve a different decision on the two incidences. In deontological ethics, an action can be morally good due to some characteristic of the action itself, not just because its product is good (Misselbrook 63). The theory holds that at least some acts are morally obligatory regardless of what consequences they could have on the welfare of humans.
Categorical imperative – Version 1
As per deontological ethics, in rescue 1, the rescuers will avoid the outcry of one person against the five people whose lives are threatened by the ocean tide. This means that they will save the five as opposed to one. In Rescue two, they will also run over the single man caught on the narrow road to reach and rescue the five members. The maxim, in this case, is what lives behind the action. A deontologist will try and reason what will happen if he avoids a single man and allow him to die, then he will be able to save five other people, or else the five will die (Misselbrook 211). In the second situation, by killing a single person only is wen none will be able to save five people. In both cases, a universal rule for the end is undertaken, wherein the end is also the only sensible action to take. According to the categorical imperative by Kant, the supreme principle of morality is the standard of rationality. All the particular moral requirements are justified by this principle, meaning that all immoral actions are irrational since they violate the CI.
Categorical imperative – Version 2
A second option for deontological theory for rescue one would be to try and rescue the first single guy before chasing to save the five others. For rescue two, the rescuers will not run over the man caught on the road, even if the five people drowned. According to the theory, humans have an inherent value and hence someone cannot just be sacrificed in the pretense of saving the majority. The principle of saving others is morally applicable to all (Misselbrook 63). In the second version of the Categorical Imperative, it is a morally wrong incident of justifying wrongdoing in the name of pretending to care for others. It means that Kant would probably do whatever best possible to save others without leaving one individual to die.
Just like Bentham, Kant was an enlightened man. According to him, morals had to come not just from authority or tradition or religious commands but should always come from reason. In most of his cases, Kant started not with the narrative of pain and pleasure but with the fact that the most distinguishing feature is the possession of reason. According to Kant, humans have universal rational duties to one another and hence have the responsibility to respect each other humanity perspective (Misselbrook 63). Kant states that humans need to be seen as inherently worthy of respect and dignity. According to him, morality needs to stem from such duties, which is a duty based on a deontological ethic, where consequences such as pain and pleasure are irrelevant. This explains the category imperatives one and two, where Kant suggests that before undertaking any action, one must ask themselves, ‘would it be ok if everyone took this type of action?’ (Misselbrook 63). For the theory, Kant does not advocate for lying since that too would be morally wrong. Therefore, in the event of rescue one and rescue 2, Kant would tend to undertake the best approach, which would ensure that all actions are undertaken are morally right and at the same time ensure that people’s lives are saved.
Some of the criticism of the utilitarian theory is that it sometimes tends to justify something morally wrong for something that is for the greater good. For example, it is morally wrong to kill someone for the sake of others. Still, utilitarianism will tend to look for a way of justifying this, in the name of protecting the happiness of most people. On the other hand, a significant criticism of Kant’s deontology theory is that it is complex and makes contradictory understanding for different researchers, hence not being exactly clear on the best course of action in such a scenario.
Explain Aristotle’s theory as it would answer this issue.
Aristotle believed in the virtue theory, which is detail-driven and open-ended. According to the theory, the right thing to do in each case is what a virtuous person would do. This is recognizing the right thing to do, given the specific details of the case (Di Nucci 3). Therefore, in the Rescue one, Aristotle’s theory would suggest finding what would be the most sensible and morally correct thing to do. This would be by ensuring that the five people are rescued and also ensure that the one person who is also a human is rescued. Rescuing all people would be the morally ethical thing to do, according to Aristotle, since he would not want a person to get harmed in the name of making the majority happy. According to Aristotle, a virtuous person would recognize the need to save a life since it is not justified to think that saving people will work, risking their lives to fail to plan how to save them. In rescue 2, Aristotle’s virtue theory would not advocate for killing one person to save the rest. Instead, it would look for a way to save the one person on the narrow road and ensure that the other five who are almost getting carried away in the tide are also rescued. This is since it is morally compelling for a person to do what is virtuous and ensure that they see the life of a fellow human in Infront, without thinking of causing any harm or death to not even one human.
According to Aristotle, ethical knowledge is not specific knowledge but rather general knowledge that humans should possess. This ensures that they make decisions accordingly and decide do not result in harm to fellow humans. According to Aristotle, ethical knowledge is a personal discipline instead of what virtue is. Humans are responsible for doing what makes them human, and being good sets them apart from everything else (Nahmias 1). According to Aristotle, they can reason and hence use it in making the best decisions in scenarios of rescue one and rescue 2. Situations may be different and fall under divergent contexts, but humans will always need to do what is morally correct with their knowledge and understanding (Nahmias 1). The moral theory by Aristotle is an individualistic eudaemonism, which falls under the “virtue ethics” category. This is the perspective that focuses on the good human life, where every decision named by humans has to be in line with the human perspective.
From the three theories highlighted in the paper, my most suitable recommendation would be version 2 of the categorical imperative of Kant’s deontology theory. This is since morally wrong acts are not justified as the end-use for many decisions that ought to be made. It is vital to understand that immoral acts cannot be justified for any action. Aristotle’s ethical theory approach in the scenario would also be one of my preferred decisions since it would mostly focus on making a morally correct decision. It would ensure that no person gets harmed in making such a serious decision and that every soul is assured in the decision-making process. This is unlike utilitarianism which would advocate for sacrificing life for the sake of five. It is essential to understand that ethically no theory needs to justify an inherently immoral act. However, the three theories have their basis, meaning that different peoples will settle for any theories when making such a tough decision.
ABUMERE, FRANK ARAGBONFOH. “UTILITARIANISM.” INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY: ETHICS (2020). <https://press.rebus.community/intro-to-phil-ethics/chapter/utilitarianism/>.
Di Nucci, Ezio. ” “Aristotle and double effect.” Journal of Ancient Philosophy (Forthcoming) .” (2014).
Misselbrook, David. “Duty, Kant, and Deontology.” (2013): 63(609): 211.
Nahmias, Eddy. “What would aristoteles do to answer the trolley problem ? would he kill the 5 people or switch the tracks to kill only one ?” (2015).