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Bioethics - Essay Example

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The paper "Bioethics" presents that supporting “preference utilitarianism” would be a wrong idea on the ground that greater weight would be given to more intense or strongly held preferences than weak preferences. Following this will violate the earlier principle of impartiality…
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Bioethics
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A Response to Dostoevsky’s Challenge

Van Rensselaer Potter introduced the term “bioethics” with the intention of making us realize the importance of incorporating an ethic not just to our fellow humans but to the entire biosphere as a whole (Kuhse & Singer, 1999). According to the ethical relativism, the attitude of the entire culture in which one lives plays the [pivotal role in determining the right or wrong (Kuhse & Singer, 1999). Individual attitudes are not the sole determinants (Kuhse & Singer, 1999). R.M. Hare, an Oxford philosopher, proposed universal prescriptivism according to which the distinctive property of ethical judgments is that they are universalizable (Kuhse & Singer, 1999). This universal prescriptivism results in the form of consequentialism, claiming that the rightness of an action actually depends upon its consequences (Kuhse & Singer, 1999).
Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill brought forward classical utilitarianism which states that an action is right if it leads to a greater surplus of happiness over misery than any possible alternative and wrong if it does not (Kuhse & Singer, 1999). By “greater surplus of happiness”, the classical utilitarian refers to the concept of accumulating all the pleasure or happiness that resulted from the action and deducting from that sum all the pain or misery resulting from the action (Kuhse & Singer, 1999).
Being a consequentialism, particularly a classical utilitarian, I would, first of all, find out and be completely assured that this was the surest and the only way of retaining enduring happiness to the entire mankind (Kuhse & Singer, 1999). Any utilitarian, keeping in mind the giant mission of achieving contentment of the world’s people would surely accept the job of being the architect of the happiness of the world at the cost of the child’s unexpiated tears (Kuhse & Singer, 1999). We are already aware that in certain situations it might be possible only to lessen misery and hence the correct action should be realized as the one that will lead to less misery than other possible option.
While making any ethical judgment, it must be universalizable for hypothetical and real situations as well (Kuhse & Singer, 1999). At the time of making an ethical judgment, one is expected to put himself or herself in place of the parties involved and determine whether he or she can still accept that judgment. In this particular case, suppose the father is aware that the torture on his child is the only process left which guarantees the overall welfare of the people all around the globe, he being a true a follower of universalism will be ready to sacrifice the happiness of his own child (Kuhse & Singer, 1999).
We are well aware of the fact that utilitarianism’s single principle is applied universally without being influenced by any fear or favor (Kuhse & Singer, 1999). Supporting “preference utilitarianism” would be a wrong idea on the ground that greater weight would be given to more intense or strongly held preferences than weak preferences (Kuhse & Singer, 1999). Following this will violate the earlier principle of impartiality. We know that an ethical judgment should be based on universal terms rather than referring to a particular individual.
One's decision of acknowledging such a task can be backed by the strong fact that the suffering of the child will be repeated for perhaps more than a million-fold over the next century for other children who are equally innocents, trapped in the cells of starvation, disease, and brutality (Kuhse & Singer, 1999). Hence, if in order to assure the protection of the umpteenth number of children, one child has to be sacrificed, one has to accept it. After all, one has to look at the broader target of achieving maximum net happiness.

References
Kuhse, Helga, & Singer, Peter. (1999). Bioethics: An Anthology. United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishing. Retrieved Jan 24, 2008, from . Read More
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