Mill's Utilitarianism, Sacrifice the innocent for the common good?
When faced with a moral dilemma, utilitarianism identifies the
appropriate considerations, but offers no realistic way to gather the
necessary information to make the required calculations. This lack of
information is a problem both in evaluating the welfare issues and in
evaluating the consequentialist issues which utilitarianism requires be
weighed when making moral decisions. Utilitarianism attempts to solve
both of these difficulties by appealing to experience; however, no
method of reconciling an individual decision with the rules of
experience is suggested, and no relative weights are assigned to the
In deciding whether or not to torture a terrorist who has planted a
bomb in New York City, a utilitarian must evaluate both the overall
welfare of the people involved or effected by the action taken, and the
consequences of the action taken. To calculate the welfare of the people
involved in or effected by an action, utilitarianism requires that all
individuals be considered equally.
Quantitative utilitarians would weigh the pleasure and pain which would
be caused by the bomb exploding against the pleasure and pain that would
be caused by torturing the terrorist. Then, the amounts would be summed
and compared. The problem with this method is that it is impossible to
know beforehand how much pain would be caused by the bomb exploding or
how much pain would be caused by the torture. Utilitarianism offers no
practical way to make the interpersonal comparison of utility necessary
to compare the pains. In the case of the bomb exploding, it at least
seems highly probable that a greater amount of pain would be caused, at
least in the present, by the bomb exploding. This probability suffices
for a quantitative utilitarian, but it does not account for the
consequences, which create an entirely different problem, which will be
Modern Philosophy essays:
... edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Hartnack, J. (1965). Wittgenstein and Modern Philosophy. New York City: New York UniversityPress ... that the human kind had a responsibility to ensure ethical morals. Today existentialism are still found in playhouses in which companies ...
... the welfare issues and in evaluating the consequentialist issues which utilitarianism requires be weighed when making moral decisions. Utilitarianism attempts to solve both of these difficulties by ...
... is weighted in order to resolve which right is overridden. If explained as such, utilitarian principles, though not underpinning Mill's theory of liberty, is also not incompatible, but instead supplements it by resolving some difficulties arising ...
... Utopia, New York: Columbia University Press, 2004, Pg 150- 160. Rorty, R, `Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature Princeton': Princeton University Press, 2000, Pg 10- 30. Sandercock, L "Cities of ...
... the transitory and passive life of man is of no consequence, and only bears respect to matter from which he will soon be disencumbered; but his active and moral life, which ought to have most influence over his nature ...
Outline and evaluate what you consider to be the most powerful objection to Utilitarianism as a moral theory
... best consequences. Utilitarianism, the most popular of consequentialist theories, was formulated by Jeremy Bentham (1789) and later refined by John Stuart Mill (1861). In general terms, classical utilitarianism states ...
... of torture; which in Kantianism is not a moral act. Thus, for these reasons, the positions of Utilitarianism and Kantianism on euthanasia are inadequate in resolving the issue of ...
... to set a precedent for said circumstance (i.e. your moral decision for action in the given situation) and the reason for ... say that these formulae are entirely clear cut without any difficulty in their application. On the contrary, some of their reasoning ...