Essay I Ethical Theory
Thesis: To begin, I believe that it would be permissible to shove the fat man off the railing to save the lives of five individuals that would have otherwise been struck by the trolley. I will use John Stuart Mill’s teleological theory of Act Utilitarianism to prove my case. I will also explain why I disagree with Kant’s Formula of Humanity. Background: The theory that we are focusing on for this particular case is called the normative theory of ethics. This theory asks what we should or ought to do when dealing with moral issues. My ethical beliefs for this given situation would most closely match those of John Stuart Mills. Mills’ believes that happiness is a result of how much pleasure and pain we experience, also known as hedonism (Rauhut, p. 213). Human beings are also referred to as sentient or beings that can experience both pleasure and pain. As a hedonist, Mills is an advocate for the ethical theory known as Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is a broad ethical theory that focuses on two key ideas. These two ideas are that human happiness is the ultimate moral goal and that actions should be evaluated in light of their consequences (Rauhut, p. 211). More specifically, Act Utilitarianism affirms that the correct action is the one that directly produces the best balance of happiness over unhappiness for all involved. Utilitarianism is also identified as a teleological theory because it states that an action is either right or wrong based on its consequences. According to an Act Utilitarian, the killing of one human being would create the least amount of unhappiness for all concerned, as opposed to the killing of five. An Act Utilitarian would take into account the happiness of all individuals involved in the situation and make a decision that resulted in best balance for all individuals. In this particular case, that decision would be to sacrifice the life of the fat man to save the lives of the five people stranded on the tracks....
Cited: Tittle, Peg. What If: Collected Thought Experiments in Philosophy. New York: Pearson Longman, 2005. Print.
Rauhut, Nils Ch. Ultimate Questions: Thinking about Philosophy. 3rd ed. Boston: Prentice Hall, 2011. Print.
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