Philosophy in the Scenario, George Essay

Pages: 3 (1071 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Ethics


In the scenario, George is, under Utilitarianism, morally obligated to take the job. After all, the goal of Utilitarianism is to promote "the greatest amount of happiness altogether" (p. 13). The theory, also termed the Greatest Happiness Theory, proposes that in order for one's actions to be considered morally right, they must promote the greatest amount of happiness and minimize unhappiness (such as suffering or pain). Utilitarianism, by its first principle, judges one's actions as right or wrong based on the consequences of those actions.

George is, therefore, morally obligated to take this job and would be wrong if he did not. The fact that he himself does not want to do the job (or, more specifically, his own moral reservations about doing the job) factor little into determining the required action. By taking this job, George would be maximizing the happiness of not only his family, but also himself and the world at large to some extent. His family would have the money they need to survive and his wife would be less burdened. The world would be better off because 1) the more zealous warmonger would not be pushing biological warfare on it (so quickly) and 2) depending on one's view of the utility of war, the world would be safer. George would be minimizing his own suffering (at least) by having a job, being able to contribute to the family, and keeping the warmonger out of the position.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on Philosophy in the Scenario, George Is, Under Assignment

One might argue (George in fact) that chemical and biological warfare is inherently bad and does not work to maximize happiness, thus taking this position is wrong. However (and this is one of the problems of determining the morality of actions based on utility), it is unknown what the outcome of either the research or, if the research were used for warfare, the war itself would be. For example, while the atomic bomb killed many people, it may have saved the lives of many others by ending a war (make its use morally right to the Utilitarian). Further, the research that he would be doing could actually be a preventative step. It could keep people in his own country from being attacked (by those knowing that they have chemical and biological weapons) or keep a war from starting in the first place. Because of George's concern with the research already, he would probably do the job in such a way as to promote peace. On the other hand, the other man who would take the position has an alarmingly excessive amount of zeal, and would probably not use his work to promote the prevention of war.

There are immediate issues when trying to apply utilitarianism to this scenario, however. First, questions of the quality and quantity of happiness come into play when determining the morally right action for George to take. There is hardly an objective view of either the quantity or quality of happiness created. We cannot say, for example, that George should take the job (mainly) because it would greatly increase his (or his family's, which in turn still his) happiness because he must act, according to utilitarianism, "as strictly impartial as a disinterested and benevolent spectator" (p. 19). This makes… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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