Ethics Essay

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Explain Mill’s utilitarianism and how it may be applied to one ethical issue other than abortion or euthanasia. (30 marks)

John Stuart Mill’s theory of utilitarianism focused more carefully on the shift from quantity to quality. He accepts that being governed by feelings of pleasure and pain is subjective, he challenges us to show how it is not a principle which governs all human behavior. Mill believed that humans would always seek the ‘higher’ pleasure over the ‘lower’ pleasure. He states that only those who have experienced both kinds of pleasure are capable of deciding which are morally better - “better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied”. Mill calls these type of people competent judges. Mill believes the competent judges would always choose the higher intellectual pleasure over the lower sensual ones. However, Mill explains that the higher pleasures are only accessible by humans, not by other creatures. In his book ‘Utilitarianism, Mill distinguished between physical pleasures (eating) and intellectual pleasures (such as reading).

Mill’s theory can be applied to the Amazon rainforest as within their landscape there is a culture of indigenous people called the Kayapo.The Kayapo tribe lives alongside the Xingu River in the eastern part of the Amazon Rainforest. Mill focus’ on pleasure without pain in the eyes of the government and the people of Brazil would enforce future development on the land in which the Kayapo call home which would benefit the economy as it could potentially offer better health facilities resulting in longer of lives. However, the pleasure recieved from the government would result in the most pain for the Kayapo as the corrption of their land would result in a loss in harming and possible resettlement.

But which is the higher pleasure? Preserving the customs and ancient traditions held by the Kayapo such as body painting and maintaining the rain forest as a valuable habitat resource? or would the highest pleasure...
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