Essay on Ethics, Consequentialism And Ethical Egoism

797 Words Apr 5th, 2016 4 Pages
A small cruise ship of the coast of south America has sunk leaving the remaining survivors in a small lifeboat. The lifeboat was manufactured to carry a capacity of ten people but there are a total of twenty people on board. The captain of the ship, whom is among the survivors on the lifeboat, notices that a storm is approaching fast and that it threatens to kill everyone on board if adjustments were not made. In order to maximize their chance of survival at least ten people have to be thrown overboard and the remaining people must have the ability to to row the boat to safety during and after the storm. In order for their chances of survival to maximize the captain faces an ethical dilemma of whether or not he should throw the weakest members overboard. His decision could be shaped by examining two different types of ethical systems; consequentialism and ethical egoism.
Consequentialism is an ethical system which states that “an action is morally required just because it produces the best overall results (i.e., is optimific)” (Shafer-Landau, Russ). Optimific is defined as “to yield the greatest balance of benefits over drawbacks” (Shafer-Landau, Russ). Therefore, if an action is optimific then its moral and if its not optimific then it is unmoral. A consequentialist would “do as much as they can…” (Shafer-Landau, Russ) and focus on improving the lives of others as well as their own. The overall theory of consequentialism is very appealing, but figuring out what…

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