Sonably be expected to produce the greatest balance

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sonably be expected to produce the greatest balance of good or least balance of harm. In judging the agent of the action, we should assess whether the agent conscien-tiously attempts to produce the best utilitarian outcome. 4. Impartiality (Universalism). Finally, in the utilitar-ian approach all parties affected by an action must receive impartial consideration. Utilitarianism thus stands in sharp contrast to egoism, which proposes maximizing consequences for oneself rather than for all parties af-fected by an action. In seeking a blinded impartiality, utilitarianism aligns good and mature moral judgment with moral distance from the choices to be made. Act and Rule Utilitarianism. Utilitarian moral phi-losophers are conventionally divided into several types, and it is best to think of “utilitarianism” as a label desig-nating a family of theories that use a consequentialist principle. A significant dispute has arisen among utilitari-ans over whether the principle of utility is to be applied to particular acts in particular circumstances or to rules of conduct that determine which acts are right and wrong. For the rule utilitarian, actions are justified by appeal to rules such as "Don't deceive" and "Don't break prom-ises." These rules, in turn, are justified by appeal to the principle of utility. An act utilitarian simply justifies ac-tions directly by appeal to the principle of utility. Act utilitarianism is thus characterized as a "direct" or "ex-treme" theory because the act utilitarian directly asks, "What good and evil consequences will result directly from this action in this circumstance?" — not "What good and evil consequences will result generally from this sort of action?" Consider the following case, which occurred in the state of Kansas and which anticipates some issues about euthanasia encountered in Chapter 4. An elderly woman lay ill and dying. Her suffering came to be too much for her and her faithful husband of fifty-four years to endure, so she requested that he kill her. Stricken with grief and unable to bring himself to perform the act, the husband hired another man to kill his wife. An act utilitarian might reason that in this case hiring another to kill the woman was justified, although in general we would not permit persons to perform such actions. After all, only this woman and her husband were directly affected, and relief of her pain was the main issue. It would be unfor-tunate, the act utilitarian might reason, if our "rules" against killing failed to allow for selective killings in ex-tenuating circumstances, because it is extremely difficult to generalize from case to case. The jury, as it turned out, convicted the husband of murder, and he was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. An act utilitarian might maintain that a rigid application of rules inevitably leads to injustices and that rule utilitarianism cannot escape this problem of an undue rigidity of rules.
BEAUCHAMP,“ETHICAL THEORY AND BIOETHICS12

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