Mill's And Sidgwick's Utilitarianism: Sacrifice The Innocent For The Common Good?


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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 various considerations. Both John Stuart Mill and Henry Sidgwick believe that ...

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utilitarian people 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 the bomb exploding or how much pain would be caused by the torture would cause. 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 the bomb exploding would cause a greater amount of pain, at least in the present. This probability suffices for a quantitative utilitarian, but it does not account for the consequences, which create an entirely different problem, which will be discussed below. The probability also does not hold for Mill's utilitarianism.
Mill's Utilitarianism insists on qualitative utilitarianism, which requires ...

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There is no way to determine which people will be killed and weigh whether their deaths would be good for society. Utilitarianism requires that one compare the good that the people (JSM 220) would do for society with the harm they would do society if they were not killed. For example, if a young Adolf Hitler were in the building, it might do more good for society to allow the building to explode. Unfortunately for an individual attempting to use utilitarianism to make for decisions, there is no way to know beforehand what a person will do. Furthermore, without even knowing which building the bomb is in, there is no way to predict which people will surely be in the building. A ...

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Mill's And Sidgwick's Utilitarianism: Sacrifice The Innocent For The Common Good?. (2004, March 25). Retrieved June 19, 2018, from http://www.essayworld.com/essays/Mills-Sidgwicks-Utilitarianism-Sacrifice-Innocent-Common/5145
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Added: 3/25/2004 11:57:58 AM
Category: Miscellaneous
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