herosandutilitarianism - Dudziak 1 Noah Dudziak Professor...

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Dudziak 1 Noah Dudziak Professor Lachs 26 January 2008 Introduction to Ethics Heroes and Utilitarianism To determine whether the existence of heroes or martyrs presents a problem for utilitarianism, we must first define what is a hero or martyr. For this purpose we will refer to both as heroes, people willing to self-sacrifice in order to protect some greater good. A hero must have a sense of duty, and have no motive other than those of helping the greater good. And because of this a hero seems to be one of the most admirable characters that our society contains. Whether these heroes exist only in our minds but in real life is an important question, but what to address is how their existence clashes with the ideas of utilitarianism, if at all. Utilitarianists value the good of society over their own good, and so do heroes. Similarly, both utilitarianists and heroes will suffer pain for the pleasure of society, as they value every person’s feelings as much as their own. So it seems logical to believe that a hero is a perfect utilitarian—the definition of morality. But a hero is regarded as admirable and of good character, and in utilitarianism, there is no such thing as good people—only good actions. John Stuart Mill states that “Whatever can be proved to be good must be so by being shown to be a means to something admitted to be good without proof.” And in their good actions, heroes give up on their own happiness, so how can happiness be what is good? It does not make sense that the most moral people would give up what is moral. This is where the clashing occurs between the ideal of the hero and the utilitarianism of Mill. To recognize a hero is to recognize someone of great moral character, and look to those who give up happiness as a moral compass casts
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Dudziak 2 doubt into whether the sole determinant of what is good is happiness. Mill asserts that people are not intrinsically good, but that they can perform good actions, those which promote the general happiness principle. But if happiness is not necessarily the only good, then perhaps the general happiness principle is not an accurate measurement on morality. And if utility, the overall happiness, is not what is important to the most moral people, then how can utility lead us in the direction of morality.
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herosandutilitarianism - Dudziak 1 Noah Dudziak Professor...

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