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Leadership & Ethics OC Bobby Kenning. Utilitarianism. Objectives. Comprehend the terms “audience” and “utility” as related to utilitarianism. Comprehend the considerations for formulating a rule and apply them by identifying or creating a rule or rules based on a given case.

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Leadership & Ethics

OC Bobby Kenning

Utilitarianism


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Objectives

  • Comprehend the terms “audience” and “utility” as related to utilitarianism.

  • Comprehend the considerations for formulating a rule and apply them by identifying or creating a rule or rules based on a given case.

  • Understand the distinction between “lower” and “Higher” pleasures.

  • Comprehend and apply the utilitarian theory to the economic system of capitalism.

  • Apply the utilitarian standard to an analysis of conduct in specific cases.


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Utilitarianism

…What is Utilitarianism?


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Definitions of Utilitarianism

  • The ethical doctrine that actions derive their moral quality from their usefulness as means to some end, especially as means productive of happiness or unhappiness.

  • The doctrine that the greatest good of the greatest number should be the sole end and criterion of all public action.


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Definitions of Utilitarianism

  • Simplified:

    We decide how to act, and then justify our actions, by evaluating which alternatives are likely to result in the greatest good.

    Principle of Utility:

    One should always act as to bring about the “greatest good for the greatest number…”


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Utilitarianism

  • Terms

    Agent: the decision maker or actor

    Audience: all those effected

    Utility: the amount of good or lessening of bad


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Utilitarianism

  • Measurement of Utility

    • Pleasure

    • Happiness

    • Ideals

    • Preferences


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Utilitarianism

  • Jeremy Bentham

    • English, 1748-1832

    • Bases ethics and politics on principle of utility

    • Maximize Pleasure / Minimize Pain

  • John Stuart Mill

    • English, 1806-1873

    • More sophisticated version of utilitarianism

    • Quality of Happiness / Quantity of People

    • Lower Pleasures / Higher Pleasures


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Utilitarianism

  • Which version of Utilitarianism is better?

  • What’s the difference?

  • Can you think of any situations where maximizing happiness would be considered a wrong act?


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Utilitarianism

  • Steps of a Moral Dilemma Analysis

    • Determine the audience

    • Determine positive and negative affects

    • Decide which course of action maximizes utility


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Utilitarianism vs. Capitalism

  • Capitalism involves the separation of economy and state (similar to separation of church and state)

  • The essential nature of capitalism is social harmony through the pursuit of self-interest

    • Does Utilitarianism come into conflict with Capitalism?

    • How? Why?


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Utilitarianism

  • Ends justify the means

    • The only correct decision is the one that maximizes utility for all involved


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  • Act Utilitarianism

    An act is right, if and only if, it results in as much good as any available alternative

  • Rule Utilitarianism

    An act is right, if and only if, it is required by a rule that is itself a member of a set of rules whose acceptance would lead to greater utility for society than any available alternative


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Act Utilitarianism

  • Assesses the consequences of particular actions

    • You are a Navy surgeon stationed at Camp Rhino near Kandahar, Afghanistan. You have a just been slammed with 5 patients.

    • 1 of the patients has only a minor concussion, however the 4 others will die unless they get an organ transplant (each one needs a different organ)

    • The 1 healthy patient is a perfect match and can save the lives of the 4

    • Do you sacrifice the 1 for the good of the 4?

    • An Act Utilitarian would weigh the cost vs. the benefit and sacrifice the one healthy patient = “Greater Good”


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Rule Utilitarianism

  • Assesses the consequences of following particular rules

    • Killing is murder, and murder is wrong

      • This can be a RULE

    • Rules of Engagement: Do not fire unless/until fired upon

      • This can be a RULE

    • What if a man has a gun pointed at my wife?

      • The right thing to do would be to KILL the Killer

        • (i.e. it produces a greater utility than following the rules and not killing him)


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“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

  • What do you think of this story?

  • How does it relate to Utilitarianism?

  • Do things like this happen?


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  • You are the President of Omelas…

    • What do you say to the international community to defend your form of government and way of life?

    • How do you defend your society?

    • Greater Good?


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  • You are a SEAL Team commander…

    • You have been ordered to take the child by force

    • How do you justify your Team’s mission?

    • Greater Good?


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Utilitarianism

  • The Omelas child has died. For Omelan society to continue a new child must be found to replace him. You’ve benefited from this system, and now the government is asking you to turn over your newborn to serve as the secretsource of happiness for Omelas…

  • Do you comply?

  • Should you?

  • Greater Good or Lesser Evil?


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Utilitarianism

  • You are a Marine Corps Lieutenant assigned an Army security detail at Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq. You see a 5 year old girl playing with other children while approaching the main gate to get their daily candy from the soldiers on post there. You notice she is rigged with explosives, they are strapped to her body. She has likely been “assigned” the role of a suicide bomber, she doesn’t know this, and killing her is the only way to guarantee your soldier’s safety.

  • Do you give the order to fire?

  • Why or why not?

  • Greater Good or Lesser Evil?


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Utilitarianism

Greater Good or Lesser Evil?


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Utilitarianism

  • Criticisms

    • Responsibility for consequences

    • Violation of personal integrity

    • Unconcerned with intentions

    • Luck or moral outcome

    • Can go against moral obligations

    • Can also go against prior commitments and promises


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Utilitarianism

  • Hiroshima & Nagasaki

    • Does anybody know who Henry L. Stimson was?

    • Why would he advise President Truman to drop the bombs?


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Utilitarianism

  • Was it the right call?

  • Are the use of nuclear weapons sometimes permissible?

    Greater Good or Lesser Evil?


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Cancer Example

  • You have the ability to CURE Cancer

  • To do so you have to sacrifice one person

  • Do you make the sacrifice = Greater Good?

  • NOTE: Self sacrificing is NOT allowed…




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