Utilitarian Ethics

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

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Utilitarian ethics are based on the idea that everything we do should be for the outcome of the greater good. The debate for the utilitarian ethical perspective goes against the Kantian ethical philosophy, which basically states that everything you do, should be right or at least the intentions should be right. Utilitarians usually believe that suicide is good in some instances, while Kantians believe that there is no situation when suicide is acceptable.

Some examples of the utilitarian ethics would be if someone was dying of a terminal illness and was suffering constant inhuman pain, and that person wanted help killing themselves, then you should help them if you follow the utilitarian ethical way of life. Another example would be if sheep were suddenly dying off in great numbers from some disease and there was no way to test for that disease, and you have a herd of sheep, then for the greater good of the sheep population in the future you should kill all your sheep, regardless of whether or not their showing signs of this disease.

The utilitarian view on suicide is my main reasoning for going towards the utilitarian philosophy of ethics. There are too many situations in which I believe that suicide in morally right, examples being the terminally ill, some situations dealing with loss of a function or limbs (paralysis), and any situation in which something has happened (accident, explosion) where someone is going to die, but it is simply a matter of time. The Kantian belief that there is no acceptable reason for suicide is most likely derived from Christianity, which for me is too closed-minded.

When deciding whether your ethics are Kantian or Utilitarian you must first see where you are in your views, unfortunately most of these views are some of...