Mill's Utilitarianism

According to John Stuart, the criterion of moral action whether it is right or wrong is based on the property of actions performed. To perform a morally right action depends on the morally right property to perform the right action. Moral reasoning in this case forms a critical basis of decision making. Utilitarianism is an act of consequence-based ethics and it requires that the moral nature of an action should be judged on the basis of the amount of happiness it brings to the majority. Stuart says that an action or decision that brings happiness to an individual and majorly to many people is considered right and one that does the contrary is considered morally wrong. Morally right action should be goal oriented and the goal in this case should be summum bonum. This means that the goal set should make the individual achieve the highest happiness brought about by the action. An action is therefore morally right when it is able to produce in the individual the summum bonum.

Utilitarianism therefore alleges that the outcome of an action should strictly be determined by its ability to provide happiness or pleasure than what anything else would. It is strictly on happiness with lack of pain. This brings us to the next concept as introduced by Stuart as Hedonism which entails happiness without pain since unhappiness is pain. Morally right action holds that when we are faced with a choice, we should consider doing an action that we believe is morally right and that which we have the moral duty to perform and which will probably generate a maximum utility. In his moral theory, everyone’s happiness counts equally in their actions. In a looser sense utilitarian argument alleges that we should do something because of its good outcomes or to stop doing something because of its bad consequences. The good and bad consequences should be limited to what reduces or increases pleasure or happiness.

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In Stuart’s pig Objection, he says that animal achieve the best life when they free from pain and have a life full of pleasure. Animals’ action are driven towards satisfaction attained by meeting their lower pleasures which entails bodily demands such as meeting their hunger needs and thirst. It also includes sexual desires and shelter. On the other hand, humans do not only want to meet lower needs throughout their lives they will try to perform actions that will enable them achieve higher pleasures. These two have a common mode of pleasure achieved by performing actions that will bring them happiness. Their common pleasure is a mere sensation which must also be achieved without pain. Actions that bring pain will be avoided and thus such actions are morally wrong. But the ones performed by both animals and humans are actions that provide maximum happiness and thus they both have actions that meet summum bonum.

Human on the other hand have a distinctive higher pleasure which includes those of intellect, imagination, moral sentiments and feelings. Actions performed to meet higher pleasure are in this case moral actions because they make an individual happy. Actions performed such as achieving of several musical accomplishments by a seventy seven year old man are moral actions geared towards meeting personal moral sentiments. Maximum happiness becomes the basis of judging whether an action is morally right or wrong. Happiness should be reached in a person without pain since the presence of pains means that an action brought some unhappy feeling. This makes the action performed morally wrong because it brought some unhappy feelings in both man and animal. According to Mill, an action is morally right when it produces a happy feeling on the person who performed it.

Question Two: Relativism

A morally right or wrong action depends on some facts put in place to judge the action and it also depends on what a person of a group of people think and believe about the action performed. The claim that an action is morally right according to an individual perspective independent of what other group of people or an individual thinks creates the school of thought called Ethical objectivism. On the other hand moral relativism is a claim that an action performed is morally right or wrong is relative to an individual or a society as a whole. Moral relativism is further divided into two and it includes subjectivism and relativism. According to relativism, an action performed will be morally right or wrong for a society only when the society believes that the action is morally wrong or right. On the other hand, subjectivism under moral relativism means that an action performed may be right or wrong for a person when he believes that the action is morally wrong or right.

The two concepts subjectivism and relativism have generated contradictions in that an action can be morally right to a person “A” because he believes that he is right. At the same time, this action performed either include taking of hard drugs. In contrast, another person “B” believes that the taking of hard drugs is not a moral act because of reasons known to them. In this case there will be two arguments that drug taking is just and drug taking is unjust. This is the contradiction created by the two suppositions of two different groups of people concerning taking of hard drugs.

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The contradiction generated by these two standpoints of different groups can only be eliminated when qualifiers are added to the suppositions. The qualifiers will help make the truth of this moral claim relative to the two groups with different opinion about hard drugs. We need to state that the taking of hard drugs is a right moral act for society “A” and secondly, taking of hard drugs is a wrong moral act for society “B”. This development will make these two claims different and they will therefore not contradict each other.

A moral disagreement between two ideas is possible when subjectivism and relativism concepts are not true. On the other hand, when this subjectivism and relativism concepts are true moral disagreement will be impossible. On the other hand we can only believe and conclude that moral disagreement is possible when we do not believe that relativism and subjectivism ideas are true. The disagreement can therefore be eliminated by introducing qualifiers to the concept of subjectivism and relativism.

Question Three: Personal Identity

The argument about soul is that it helps in identifying that two personalities who existed in two different periods are indeed one. This supposition is problematic because we cannot know that the person is the same person. The argument is that a person “A” at a time T1 in the past is identical to another person Bat a different time T2 in the present future if “A”’s soul is the same as B’s. This statement is problematic because when we want to know whether two people at different times are similar, we must know their soul and identify if they are similar. It is further complicated because knowing if these two people are indeed one person requires us to understand that same body means same soul. This principle cannot be justified because no one can establish the correlation between same souls and bodies since no one can observe whether two souls are the same. At the same time, when we presume that people are souls, it would be difficult to know any person “A” at a time T1 is the same as a person B at a time T2.

According to the memory view of personal identity, two people at different times are similar when there is same memory of an action performed. If a person remembers same experiences as another person, these two people are the same and are connected by their memory. Memory makes a person be himself and brings actions that were done by another person at different time in mind. Personal identity depends in this case depends entirely on an individual substance or is continuous on several substances of memory. In addition to this, consciousness that a person has at the past experience will not live permanently uninterrupted entirely in human life. This is because it does it continues to the next level and during memory processes, we do have thoughts that seam familiar to our minds. This develops the idea that consciousness plays to serve and connect two distinct numerical conscious experiences into one consciousness and therefore the same thinker still remains the same person. That is why when as far as our thought can be stretched backwards to any action or thought made in the past it reaches the identity of the person. This creates the sameness in the individuals with the same thought. This memory concept is circular between a person “A” and person B at different time periods because person B experiences real memories of person “A”. This helps in the identity of person B since the memory will take him back to the time when the action or the thought was made. The memory view therefore is circular because it connects two different people.

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To avoid circularity, memory view concerning personal identity can be trusted when there is brain transplant. This is a case when the brain of a person “A” is transplanted into the brain of another person B during an operation. B has “A’s” brain and thus all the psychological processes taking place in B’s brain are continuous of “A’s” psychological processes. If B experiences memories, it will be of “A’s” experiences before his brain was transplanted in another person’s head. All the activities in B’s brain are sufficient enough to help identify him. On the contrary, this type of memory will not circular because in the event of transplantation, person “A” ceased to exist. We only remained with one person and one brain after the operation.

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