Categorical Imperative vs. Utilitarianism

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Katelyn Cassidy

PHI 101

The Cold Equation written by Tom Godwin is a science fiction short story that raises issues in philosophy. The story is about a girl named Marilyn that sneaks on to an EDS, a little ship carrying fever serum to six men stationed on a planet Woden. Marilyn’s brother had been one of the six men stationed there and she wanted to see him because it had been ten years since she had last seen him. Marilyn was scheduled to take a ship to the planet Mirmir where she would see her brother in one year, but she couldn’t wait any longer knowing that there was a ship on its was to Woden. There was a law that stated that any stowaway discovered on an EDS should be jettisoned immediately upon discovery. The EDS carried limited amount of fuel that was rationed with care. The computers determined how much fuel the EDS would need exactly to make it to their destination. In this particular situation the EDS only had the exact amount of fuel to make it to Woden carrying the pilot and the fever serum. Marilyn’s added weight would not allow the EDS to make it to its destination. The pilot did everything in his power to see if there were any other options than to jettison Marilyn into space where she would die. There were no other options. Marilyn begged and pleaded for her life saying she had done nothing wrong and was going to die for a simple decision she had made. Ultimately the pilot had to jettison Marilyn out of the ship in order to save himself and the other six men that needed the fever serum. We are going to look at this situation from Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative, Mills principle of Utilitarianism, the number principle, and my comparing it other scenarios discussed in class.

Categorical Imperative, a term coined by Immanuel Kant, argues that moral requirements are based on a standard of rationality. Immorality is a violation to the categorical imperative and is thereby irrational. Individuals that posses equal self worth deserve...
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