The best version of Utilitarianism, the best version of Virtue Ethics, and the best version of Deontological Ethics converge and place the same requirements on us. I agree with all three types of Ethics in their best forms.
“Deon” means “duty” or “obligation”, and thus, “Deontology” means “the study of” or “the language about” duty and obligations. “Deontological Ethics” include theories about duties and obligations. As I will explain below, the best version of Deontological Ethics reaches the conclusion that the best version of Utilitarianism defines the d
I think it’s unethical and morally bankrupt.
For my readers who don’t know about Utilitarianism, it is an idea in ethics which states that the best action is the one that causes the greatest pleasure to the most number of people, minus the suffering it causes to people.
It takes ethics and turns it into a simple matter of arithmetic. For example, suppose I were to capture to people and force them to fight to the death in an arena, or else explosives strapped to their bodies would detonate and kill both of them at once. And I broadcast this on TV pay-per-view, bringing millions and millions of people pleasure, at the cost of suffering and death for two people.
Since ethics is now just a math problem, 2 is way less than millions and millions, therefore this act of utter barbarity is now considered good.
To give you a more realistic scenario, imagine if everyone was required to be an organ donor, to give the most utility to the most people, but if you had any kind of difficult illness or injury, they simply cut you into pieces and give your body parts to a dozen or so people. After all, ethics is a simple math problem. 12 is more than 1, so that makes butchering you okay.
And this is when we have full knowledge of what we are doing and what the outcome will be. What if we add good ole fashioned human ignorance to this mixture of immorality:
Let’s suppose a majority of the population is under the delusion that all their problems are caused by the Jewish minority, because they listened to some dumbass at a beer hall ranting about how evil the Jews are. So they decide the best way to make society better is to round up all the Jews and gas them.
After all, the Jews are a minority, and this will make the morally bankrupt and ignorant majority happy. I could justify the Holocaust under an interpretation of Utilitarianism.
This is very wrong. Ethics and morality are not math problems. Immoral actions are still immoral even if the majority of people approve, or even if some kind of positive outcome can be perceived by those acts.
Morality doesn’t exist if you can justify immoral acts as acts of moral goodness as long as the majority of humanity approves.
Morality is in the action itself, not the outcome. It is immoral to murder innocent people. That will not change even if public opinion is not on my side and decides that this is what is best for society.
It doesn’t matter if the majority doesn’t like the minority or the one being murdered, and sees some kind of benefit, real or otherwise. It is still immoral.
Even when we know the outcome beforehand, this is still wrong. Now throw in the fact that some actions have unpredictable outcomes, and utilitarianism becomes a seriously flawed ethical system. If you’re relying on foreknowledge of the outcome to determine whether actions are moral, then you’ll commit immoral acts out of ignorance.
Instead we must determine which actions are immoral in what situations, regardless of the outcome.
For example, let’s look at the topic of rape: There are some people out there who enjoy “rape-play” which is a fantasy and roleplay of pretending to not give consent to sex, while actually giving consent.
This does not give you the excuse to go out and rape people, hoping you’ll randomly end up with someone who might get some kind of thrill from it, by pure chance. Even if you knew one of the potential consequences wasn’t strictly negative, you are deliberately ignoring all the negative outcomes.
Morality must seek to avoid negative outcomes as opposed to purely focusing on positive ones.
If you act in ways that seek to avoid negative outcomes, that can be considered moral. For example, the trolley problem. If you have only two choices, inaction or throwing a switch, and inaction kills five people and action kills 1 person, throwing the switch is the action seeking to avoid the deaths of five people. At least one person will die, in this scenario. In real life, we should check and make sure that there is no way to get a better outcome than 1 death.
Throwing the switch to save lives can be considered ethical and moral.
However, if someone is of the religious belief that the God of Death must be appeased and will obliterate the world unless fair maidens are tossed into a volcano on a regular basis, that is not the same as the trolley problem. They are seeking to avoid a negative outcome, but they have not factored in whether the negative outcome is realistic or imaginary, and they have not thought about whether there is an outcome involving zero deaths, in this case, inaction. And they are actively seeking to choose and destroy people to save people from an imagined threat, as opposed to taking the only option to save people from a real, provable, imminent threat. This is no better than the forced organ donation murder scenario, in fact it is worse. I can prove some people would be better off if we did forced organ donation murders. I cannot prove the world would be better off appeasing the God of Death that we imagine might exist.
Actions can be done in service of the most moral option available, while not being morally perfect. The act of flipping the switch in the trolley scenario knowingly condemns an innocent person to death, which is immoral. However, it is the least immoral possible option available. There’s no option to save everyone.
In any case, I don’t subscribe to utilitarianism. I do believe actions are either more or less immoral, but I do not believe that we can calculate moral “goodness” as a simple math problem of subtracting the lives that suffer from the lives that benefit. In such a scenario, any immoral act becomes okay as long as a majority approves and thinks it benefits them.
If you can avoid committing an immoral act, then it’s a much simpler calculation, whatever helps the most people is the best option. But it has little to do with morality. A good outcome can happen by chance, and it can risk causing harm and not cause harm this time. Outcomes do not determine whether something is wise or morally upstanding.
Morality and ethics are meant to guide human behavior. Humans cannot predict every outcome, do not know what it means to do the most good, should consider the negative consequences and avoid them as the highest priority, and should not consider gambling to be moral simply because it didn’t cause a bad outcome this time.
We have to consider what we don’t know, what we can’t predict, what we don’t understand, our own flaws and selfish motives, as well as what the dangers are that we can know beforehand, before decisions can be made about what are moral or immoral actions. Sometimes we don’t have all the facts, and sometimes the facts can lead us to the wrong conclusion. Some people like the death penalty for example, and good people trying to make good decisions acting on behalf of the best knowledge we had at the time could justify murdering a person who we later find out is innocent.
That’s why this action is immoral and one of the many reasons why I oppose the death penalty. But murder of innocent people can be justified under utilitarianism. After all, some or most of the people you execute probably were guilty. Therefore, executing innocent people too, who cares. Utilitarianism says this is okay. We’re doing the greatest good.
You can believe this nonsense until you’re the one being executed wrongly. Then all of a sudden it will matter to you that we’re killing folks who people think are guilty. You have a motivated self-interest to care. But you didn’t before this moment, because of utilitarianism. It kills lots of undesirable folks, so therefore it must be okay. You’ve looked at the positive consequences first, and ignored the negative ones.
How utilitarian. How monstrous and unethical and immoral.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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