Greatest Good for the Greatest Number

Topics: Utilitarianism, Morality, John Stuart Mill Pages: 3 (826 words) Published: March 24, 2013
Michael Sandel lectures on justice throughout two episodes. Episode 1 Part one “The Moral Side of the Murder” has three cases that demonstrate how to recognize moral selflessness and cope with consequences. These cases also show us how they move us to act and the opportunities that exist from those actions. The moral rightness of these cases can maximize consequentiality moral reasoning and can also locate morality in certain duties and rights which is categorical reasoning. In the first case driving the trolley and killing one worker rather than five is not considered an act of murder according to students from Sandels discussions. The majority expressed consequentialist moral reasoning. As an onlooker on a bridge looking at the trolley, some students would not push a fat man over the bridge to save the five workers, they said that the act would be committing murder; therefore the consequences are complex and categorical. When asked about a surgeon removing five organs from one healthy individual to save the lives of five other individuals, the majority of the students did not agree to be morally correct. In this example the greatest number was compromised because of moral reasoning. Episode 1 Part two, “The Case for Cannibalism” is a real life story that asks the question if the four survivors of the Mignonette ship were morally justified. Brooks, Dudley, Stevens and Parker had been on a life boat for 19 days. Parker’s decision to drink the salt water put him in a vulnerable position that ended his life by cannibalism to save the rest. By day twenty-four, Brooks, Dudley and Stevens were rescued and arrested. The majority of the students agreed to try them while the minority asked the question to what degree of necessity would exonerate them. It was discussed if the three survivors would benefit the community or be a danger to society for being cannibalistic. The key point by Sandel and the students was that adding consent would make a difference in the trial....
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