Utilitarianism - Coursework Example

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This essay talks about the trolley problem which is a thought test in ethics. The story is about a runaway trolley going down the railway tracks. Just ahead, on the tracks, five people are tied down and unable to move. The trolley is heading straight for the five people…
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Utilitarianism Utilitarianism Terrorists are a broad array of political organisations that practise terrorism to further their objectives. We live in an age where terrorism is a threat to world peace and security. In a situation whereby to end terrorism an innocent individual has to be subjected on a slow and painful torture would evoke a grave dilemma that can be associated with the trolley problem, which is a moral paradox.
The trolley problem is a thought test in ethics. The story is about a runaway trolley going down the railway tracks. Just ahead, on the tracks, five people are tied down and unable to move. The trolley is heading straight for the five people and the only solution is to pull the lever toswitch it to a different set of track. However, there is an individual at the side of the track. One has two options; either fail to act and the trolley kills five people, or pull the lever and diverts the trolley where it will kill one person (Mackinnon and Fiala, 2014). The terrorism situation is a question of human morality and is an example of a philosophical view called consequentialism. The view suggests that, the consequences of an action define morality.
On utilitarian grounds, the individual should be tortured for the good and safety of others, which is noticeably ethical. For a terrorism free world, as a true utilitarian I would vote for the painful torture of the innocent individual. According to utilitarianism, the good of others should come first. Utilitarianism is a concept in normative ethics that views the best moral action as the one that maximises utility. The best and valid action in this terrorism case is to save as many lives as possible. However, choosing the option of the innocent individual to be slowly and painfully tortured is not an easy decision to make and is not morally accepted.
When people encounter such a dilemma, some will evoke a strong emotional response while others would come up with a reasoned cognitive response. As a utilitarian, I would go with the cognitive response and vote for the innocent individual to be tortured as I stated above. It is the best choice to solve the dilemma since many lives will be saved on the account of one life.
The theory of utilitarianism is a basic view of consequences. For that reason, letting one individual die for the safety of the rest of the world is a justified, permissible, and an even obligatory action (Mackinnon and Fiala, 2014). My take on this situation can also be justified through the theory of doctrine of double effect. The doctrine suggests for an act to be morally permissible it has to fit certain criteria and the outcome should favour many. The doctrine also suggests the action is essential for ‘evil’ purpose if it results in beneficial good. According to the school of thought established by Immanuel Kant ,believes that our sense of morality is connected to reason, therefore according school of thought letting the individual face torture is worth if it saves many lives.
MacKinnon, B. and Fiala, A. (2014). Ethics: Theory and Contemporary issues (8th Ed.). Stamford: Cengage Learning. Read More
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