All Questions need to be at least 600 words. Please upload 2 different word documents.Reading attached below for Q1.Question 1 If the primary goal of utilitarianism is to generate the greatest good for the greatest number, a secondary goal is to minimize suffering. Using at least one quote from one of the required readings, discuss the ways in which these two principles are consistent or inconsistent with each other. If you think they are consistent, provide a real or imagined example that illustrates this consistency. If you think they are inconsistent, provide a real or imagined example that illustrates this inconsistency. Complete your post by discussing whether minimizing suffering is equal to, lesser than, or more important that generating the greatest good for the greatest number.Question 2Tom Regan says that we all have equal inherent value by virtue of being ?experiencing subjects of a life?. What does it mean to be an ?experiencing subject of a life?? Do you think that being the subject of a life means that one has equal inherent value? Does it follow from that view that animals should be given rights to life and freedom?
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Utilitarianism and Animal Rights
Consequentialist Ethics & Animal Suffering
Calculating Moral Decisions
Utilitarianism comes from the work utility, or usefulness. The system came about in reaction
to taking the decision making power away from the individual in systems where the
government would tell its citizens is right. In favor of democracy Jeremy Bentham and John
Stuart Mill believed that an ethical system should involve and value the individual as well as
Not too far away from Hedonism, Utilitarianism maintains that happiness is the greatest
ethical good. Further, given their commitment to results, whatever produces the greatest
amount of happiness is the greatest good. This built the key phrase for utilitarianism, “The
greatest good for the greatest number of people”. Let’s unpack this a bit.
Two things are required for happiness for the greatest number of people. First, this principle
includes what egoism leaves out. Each person is valuable, therefore one person’s
happiness is as important as another’s. Equal regard for the interest of all is the basis of
Utilitarianism acknowledges that happiness “for all” cannot be achieved in every situation.
People’s interest conflict, and some people will have to concede their interests for the sake
of the “greatest number”. If a vote does not go your way, the will of the majority should be
accepted. This requires a bit of sacrifice from everyone. However, the sacrifice is not good
Both utilitarianism and democracy are part of a more comprehensive rebellion against
authoritarian structures in which power and law came from the top down. In such structures,
ethics was generally based on rules, and those who followed the right rules from the right
sources were considered good.
Utilitarianism’s response to authoritarianism is twofold. First , it builds on the assumption
that truth comes to us through our senses. We do not need to rely on a source that must be
accepted by faith or under coercion.
Second, utilitarianism does not judge actions by their conformity to rules like “do not
murder” or “do not commit adultery.” Instead, if we want to know if something is right or
wrong, we look at the results. We as how a potential course of action will turn out. This is
what is called consequentialist system. Ethical truth is found in the consequences of our
actions; it is subject to testing.
Although utilitarianism rejects faith as a sufficient basis for ethics, it does not necessarily
leave God out of the picture (but some utilitarians do). Theistic utilitarianism simply argues
that we need to understand how God communicates his will to us–that is, that God teaches
us through our senses.
Bentham’s goal was to make ethics quantifiable because, if indeed goodness results from
happiness, then we need a way to determine which choices lead to the greatest amount of
happiness. In fact, the concepts of measurement and objectivity are reflected in the name of
his method: hedonistic calculus. He divides happiness into 7 categories:
Intensity (how intense is the happiness?)
Duration (how long will it last?)
Certainty (what is the probability of obtaining desired results?)
Propinquity (how soon?)
Fecundity (will it lead to similar pleasures?)
Purity (how much pain comes with it?)
Extent (how many are affected?)
Bentham believed that most people use a similar process without realizing it. For example,
if you have ever made a major decision by listing positives and negatives on opposite sides
of a sheet of paper, you have engaged in the process similar as Bentham’s hedonistic
calculus. Should I change jobs now or stick with my present one? What is included on one
side or the other of your sheet probably reflects several of the categories listed above.
While John Stuart Mill believed Bentham’s fundamental idea was sound, he modified
utilitarianism to emphasize the qualitative aspects of pleasure. Mill argues that quantitative
utilitarianism is incomplete because it does not recognize that humans have both “higher”
and “lower” desires.
But How Do We Calculate Quality?
Another problem is that not everyone has experienced the higher pleasures. How do we
know which pleasures are higher? Mill’s solution is relatively straightforward. If a person has
experienced two pleasures and is under no pressure to choose one over the other, the
pleasure he or she freely chooses is the higher.
The fool does not have a clue about the pleasure of wisdom, but Socrates understands the
lower pleasures that appeal to the fool. Thus, Socrates is in a better position to make
qualitative judgements about ethical options. This does not mean that the value of anyone’s
happiness can be disregarded in our decisions, but it does mean that no every person is in
a position to be a competent judge of moral matters.
The Positive Aspects of Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism can be summarized in three main points:
1. Happiness is the only thing that is intrinsically good. Only pain (or unhappiness) is evil in
2. No one persons (including our own) happiness is more valuable than that of any other.
Therefore, we should seek the pleasure of the greatest number.
3. The only thing that is ethically significant in judging an action is the result. Since happiness
is the only intrinsic good, it is the result to be pursued.
On reason utilitarianism looks so plausible is that it links doing good and happiness. That
we do naturally seek happiness is hard to deny. What kind of world would it be if goodness
made people miserable. Thus, connecting happiness with good and unhappiness with evil
Another attractive feature for many is that utilitarianism is oriented to results. Because it
requires that beliefs be empirically verifiable, it gives people a way to keep subjective
elements from creeping into their ethical decisions.
A third positive point is the versatility of the approach. When we make social policy
decisions on such diverse issues as taxation, education or criminal law, it is difficult to think
of a better approach than respect for the greatest happiness for the majority. It seems just
as natural to apply this principle to decisions of personal morality.
Finally, utilitarianism offers a means of balancing individual freedoms with social obligations.
On the one side, it allows for equality: The happiness of each person is of equal importance.
Individual interests receive consideration alongside the desires of all others. On the other
side, it recognizes that society cannot survive without concessions by individual members.
Thus, with the “one person, one vote” concept implicit in utilitarianism, each person is free
to say what will bring him happiness, but ultimately each person has to accept the decision
of the majority.
The History of Utilitarianism
Some Negative Aspects of Utilitarianism
Can we really ever know the results?
If our actions are judged by their consequence, then decisions about the goodness of our
actions are dependent on knowing something that is still in the future. And because the
future by definition is unknowable, then we are left in a kind of ethical limbo until we know
whether the results we anticipate come to pass.
Faced with a lack of energy-generating capacity, Salem had to determine the best solution
to a problem. This problem was not just political, because it involved questions of taxation,
possible relocation of people from homes or jobs, subjecting those nearby to potential
health hazards, and other ethical concerns. According to utilitarianism, the moral solution
would be the one that involved the least amount of pain and maximized happiness. Every
form of power facility considered (hydroelectric, solar, wind) and had its good and bad
points. However, it came down that a nuclear power plant provided too much of a danger
should it malfunction and spread nuclear waste all over the city. Thus, though expensive,
the alternative sources of power were chosen. However, a year after the plant was built at
high expense (unhappiness) new nuclear technologies came out that solved all the potential
problems of building a nuclear plant at a much lower cost.
This analogy also goes to prove that utilitarianism cannot tell us at what time we should act.
In this case, the greatest happiness would have been brought about by simply waiting one
year to build the power plant.
How do we compare results?
Just as we do not know the future for certain, we also do not know “what would have
happened if…?” Take for example the assassination of JFK. All of us would probably
denounce such a terrible act of violence, right? But let’s say that JFK was planning on
testing a biological warfare weapon on a poverty stricken nation a month after he was
actually assassinated. According to the ethic of utilitarianism, while JFK lost his life, the act
of murder was actually morally praiseworthy in reality because it saved the lives of
thousands. We just don’t stand in a good position to know, what would happen if…
Can we know the extent of the consequences?
Utilitarianism requires that we do the “greatest good” and that it be for the “greatest number
of people”. But can we really know how many people will be affected? Have there been
people in your life that have profoundly affected you in a positive way, a friend,
acquaintance, etc. And because of that person, you have become a better person who will
handoff that legacy to your children or others around you. Likewise, perhaps you have
profoundly hurt by alcoholism, drug abuse, etc. and because of that you don’t trust people.
The influences of others’ decisions on your life will never be fully known.
Further, the greatest good or greatest happiness assumes we know what constitutes
happiness for other people. Perhaps, we think we are acting for others’ happiness when in
fact we are making them miserable. Let’s say Chuck decides that he wants to make a huge
impact on other people’s lives and becomes a motivational speaker, markets his events
well, has thousands to show up and hear him speak, but in reality his message is boring,
simplistic and in some cases false. He acts out of the utilitarian principle that he is
spreading the love, when in fact, he is making people miserable.
What is A “Right”?
The word ?right? carries many different definitions with it. It could mean the direction other
than left. It could refer to a political party or a political philosophy. It could also mean an
entitlement. For the purposes of this week, we are going to take a closer look at animal
I think it important that we take a closer look at what we mean by animal and what we mean
Animal itself has many definitions. If we analyze the word animal from a Scientific
perspective with a scientific definition we might thing that anything that falls under the
classification of animal is an animal: humans, bears, coyotes, chipmunks, lizards, and bugs.
If we look at animal from a philosophical perspective we might consider things like
consciousness and/or reason. When we are looking at animals this week we must consider
animals as falling under both definitions: the kinds of things classified by science, as such,
and the kinds of things that ontologically exhibit consciousness.
When we are considering rights, the Stanford Dictionary of philosophy states that ?rights are
entitlements (not) to perform certain actions, or (not) to be in certain states; or entitlements
that others (not) perform certain actions or (not) be in certain states.?
(Reference: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rights/). When we begin to see definitions that
involve entitlements we are looking at something that his going to be granted or not granted
by mankind – in other words, we are bridging the realms of ethics with the area of political
philosophy where mankind is deciding what is and is not permissible or privileged for other
mankind – we are looking at how mankind creates laws that either protect or hinder these
permissions or privileges.
While there are many different forms of rights, I want to focus on rights as
Privileges/Liberties and rights as Claims. Rights as privileges are those kinds of things that
you can do if there is no moral obligation to do otherwise. For example: you have a right to
skip a stone across the lake. There is no hinderance to your freedom or liberty to pick up a
stone and skip it across a lake.
Do Animals Have Rights? It’s Complicated
A right as a claim is the kinds of thing where a person has a duty to another person or thing.
For example, you might make a promise to your neighbor that if he would put up a fence,
then you will pay for the fence. Your neighbor has a claim on you because of the trust that
he puts in your character to do what is good for him.
One thing you notice is that much of this discussion revolves around the notion of duty. So,
what do we do if duty is not part of the moral framework of mankind? What happens when
two duties to do rights conflict? For instance, Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian, helped
many Jews escape from Nazi Germany during World War II. She would hide them in her
house underneath the floorboards. When she was approached by German Nazi?s and they
asked her directly whether or not she was hiding Jews. What should she do by her ?duty??
Should she tell the truth as it is always a duty to the state and doing a ?duty? for the wellbeing of her soul (a right she could claim upon herself), or should she tell a lie and do her
?duty? to protect the right of life? If rights retain their moral grounding in duty it seems that
we are on very shaky grounds concerning any type of ?right.?
When we consider animal rights the crux of the issue comes down to do all animals have
the same sorts of privileges and/or claims as humans? Does a wasp or an ant retain the
same rights on life as an infant? If the wasp stings the infant should we put the wasp on trial
for punitive damages towards the child and violating the child?s right not to be harmed by
other animals? Does the wasp deserve that ?right? to be tried ?fairly??
Does a flamingo retain the same rights on life as the alligator that ate it? Should we execute
the alligator for violating the rights on life of a flamingo?
If a building is burning down and there is a choice to save someone?s pet rat or your child,
would you consider it a violation of the rat?s rights if the fireman saved your child? What if
the fireman saved the pet rat and let your child die in the fire, would the fireman be justified
in saving the rat because all animals enjoy the same rights as any other animal?
These are the kinds of questions and ideas we need to think through as we discuss animal
rights this week.
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