Meritocracy & Utilitarianism Essay

Meritocracy & Utilitarianism Essay - Guertin 1 Michael...

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Guertin 1 Michael Guertin Philosophy 137g Professor Lloyd T.A.: Brandon Johns September 27, 2007 Essay #1 Gattaca’s Meritocracy: Violating the Core Principles of Utilitarianism Andrew Niccol’s 1997 film Gattaca illustrates a genetically enhanced world, where life and disease expectancies are virtually established at birth. The Gattaca Corporation employs a unique meritocracy based purely on people’s genes rather than their gender, race, or class. However, the meritocracy portrayed in the movie clashes with Utilitarianism, which is an ethical set of guidelines centered on utility and consequentialism that is used to determine the moral worth of an action. Although Gattaca’s meritocracy has its benefits through genetic engineering, its foundation is not consistent with the underlying principles of Utilitarianism. In Jeremy Bentham’s Utilitarianism, he establishes a set of principles and values that act as a guiding force behind a political system. It is a teleological view where the rightness of an action, law, or social policy depends entirely upon the end brought about by it, or its contribution to the end. According to Utilitarian standards, the morally right act is the one that will produce the highest amount of utility for the general welfare. Furthermore, when the effects of actions on all sentient creatures must be taken into account (the primary principle of criterion behind Utilitarianism), each person is to count for one and nobody more than one. In fact, there is a specific Hedonic calculus used to calculate the consequences of an action for the pleasure or pain of everyone affected by it, which will maximize the balance of pleasure over pain. In Gattaca, it illustrates a meritocracy that is structured to award important positions to those who have the relevant qualifications for successful performance in those jobs. The design behind this merit- based social system is that candidates who are most likely to perform the best will receive the job
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Guertin 2 rather than those who would receive the job based on hereditary title, race, gender, and other classifications. In the film, society is organized in a way where facts about people’s native genetic endowments such as IQ and physical stamina can be used to determine if society should invest scarce resources in training them for certain desirable positions.
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