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Mills Utilitarianism Theory Essay

Our morality, which is what, is right and what is wrong is based on our decisions and actions we make each and every day. Unlike animals that rely solely on instinct alone, we as human beings have the ability to make our own decisions based upon our beliefs. You have to ask yourself what is more important to you, is it morally right to pleasure the masses even if it causes harm to some people which is Mills Utilitarianism theory or do you do what is logically and morally right according to universal law like Kant’s deontological theory.

In Bernard Williams experiment against Utilitarianism Jim is put in a very difficult ituation with only two options and can either not kill any of the Indians or kill one of them himself. In this scenario their can only people two outcomes either he kills one Indian and the rest of go free or he chose not to kill an Indian and Pedro will kill all twenty. He now has to ask himself what he should do does he listen to Mill or Kant. If Mill was there with Jim he would tell him according to his theory of Utilitarianism, to take the option to personally kill one Indian in order to free the other.

This is going to have the best outcome possible but requires him to commit omething immorally wrong. Ultimately he is causing the most happiness to more people by allowing ninety Indians to live and go back to their families which would have also be affected has they died. Now only one family will suffer with the loss of a loved one instead of ninety families but now has to live with his action the rest of his life. As far as utility goes it is obvious that it is better to kill one Indian than to have nineteen dying but now who gets killed is the question.

According to Mill principle of unity is what is right and wrong is determined by its usefulness r what creates the most happiness. If Jim was going to kill someone the most ideal situation would be, the village elder volunteering to be killed. His theory is known as the “greatest happiness theory,” what makes an action “good” or “moral” is if it causes the most happiness, which in this case, ninety Indians living and one dying versus all of them dying. In utilitarianism an action is good even if it involves killing a man as long as more people are happy than sad.

Even if Jim has to live with blood on his hands the rest of his live a utilitarian would say that it would e selfish to only think about how you’re going to feel and not the ninety Indians and their families. If Kant was there with Jim he would tell him according to his theory of deontology, to not kill the one Indian and allow all of them to die. This option overall will lead to more negative outcome but he will leave with a clean consciousness knowing that he did not personally kill anyone. Deontology shows us that sometimes the morally right action will not always bring the best outcome but it is important to stick with your beliefs.

Categorical imperative was Kant’s way f reducing morality down into a user friendly system. We all have to have a system by which we discern right and wrong and for Kant that was the categorical imperative. Someone lived in line with the categorical imperative that person lived moral. Now in the case with Jim and the Indians he can, A, choose to either shoot an Indian or to not shoot an Indian. Likewise, he can, B, choose to either save nineteen lives or aid a corrupt military. If we were using categorical imperative to justify our actions morally with the ways the scenario A was described then the test would say we cannot shoot the Indian.

With the way scenario B was described then the categorical imperative test would allow us to shoot the Indian. Kant would disregard scenario B where we kill a man to save nineteen because a maxim is an absolute moral statement about a universal truth. How is Jim supposed to live with himself morally knowing that he pulled the trigger and ended another human beings life? Kant views values as universal based on the rationality that we all share. Does the way we word things justify our actions? If we say that we are saving the lives of ninety other people does that justify the execution of a man?

When we say that Jim is saving the lives of ninety other Indians it makes it seem that killing one is the right thing to do. When all we are doing is making ourselves feel better about something unmoral. Both Mill and Kant have flaws in their theories because Mill is telling us in this case to kill someone to save the others and Kant is telling us to not kill an Indian so that they all die. Jim is in an extremely difficult situation and with either decision innocent people are going to die. A utilitarian would say since you did not kill one Indian in order to save the others you are morally responsible or their deaths.

Morally and spiritually Jim is doing just a wrong as Pedro is if he participates in the evil act of killing someone. Now in deontology Jim is not killing any of the Indians in order to maintain a clean consciousness because Jim is only responsible for what he does and not what Pedro does. This means that Jim cannot be blamed for the mass murder of much twenty Indians. So is this view selfish by keeping your own conscious clean while someone is doing wrong. What would the villagers want; all twenty dead or one dead?

Jim clearly found himself in a very difficult situation that left him with two options ither he kills one Indian to save nineteen others or stick to his own personal beliefs that killing is wrong and allow all twenty to die. Unfortunately, no matter what decision he makes innocent people will die it just a matter of what he can live with. Can he live with the fact that he killed an innocent Indian to save ninety other or can he live knowing that all twenty Indians were executed? If he took a utilitarian like Mill’s view he would know that killing one life would save ninety other lives resulting in the most desirable outcome.

More people are going to be happy han sad because one Indian died rather than ninety and more Indians will go back to their families which would have also been affected. If he took Kant’s theory of deontology he would not kill anyone because all human life is valuable. If it was ok to kill someone everyone would do it but that’s not the universal law, it’s not rational and definitely not moral. The decision is clear Jim should refuse the Captain’s offer and as crazy as that sounds it’s the morally right thing to do. If Pedro kills the Indians it’s an act of evil so what makes it morally right if Jim does it? What would you do?

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