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Unformatted text preview: Impact Work Dartmouth 210 1 *UTILITARIANISM 1 Last printed 9/4/09 7:00 PM Impact Work Dartmouth 210 2 Util Good Only utilitarianism takes into account the inevitability of sacrifices and compromise – any other framework is utopian and inevitably fails. Nye, prof. of IR at Harvard University, 1986 (Joseph, “Nuclear Ethics”, p. 24) Whether one accepts the broad consequentialist approach or chooses some other, more eclectic way to include and reconcile the three dimensions of complex moral issues, there will often be a sense of uneasiness about the answers, not just because of the complexity of the problems “but simply that there is no satisfactory solution to these issues – at least none that appears to avoid in practice what most men would still regard as an intolerable sacrifice of value.” When value is sacrificed, there is often the problem of “dirty hands.” Not all ethical decisions are pure ones. The absolutist may avoid the problem of dirty hands, but often at the cost of having no hands at all. Moral theory cannot be “rounded off and made complete and tidy.” That is part of the modern human condition. But that does not exempt us from making difficult moral choices. Policymakers specifically must act through utilitarianism because they can only make decisions based on the good of the public. Goodin, fellow in philosophy at Australian National Defense University, 1990 (Robert, “The Utilitarian Response”, p. 141-2) My larger argument turns on the proposition that there is something special about the situation of public officials that makes utilitarianism more probable for them than private individuals. Before proceeding with the large argument, I must therefore say what it is that makes it so special about public officials and their situations that make it both more necessary and more desirable for them to adopt a more credible form of utilitarianism. Consider, first, the argument from necessity. Public officials are obliged to make their choices under uncertainty , and uncertainty of a very special sort at that. All choices – public and private alike – are made under some degree of uncertainty, of course. But in the nature of things, private individuals will usually have more complete information on the peculiarities of their own circumstances and on the ramifications that alternative possible choices might have for them. Public officials, in contrast, are relatively poorly informed as to the effects that their choices will have on individuals, one by one. What they typically do know are generalities: averages and aggregates. They know what will happen most often to most people as a result of their various possible choices, but that is all. That is enough to allow public policy-makers to use the utilitarian calculus – assuming they want to use it at all – to chose general rules or conduct....
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