Utilitarianism In John Stuart Mill's Categorical Imperative

Amazing Essays
The main Utilitarian principle, as brought forth by John Stuart Mill posits that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” Basically, Utilitarianism holds the view that actions are morally justifiable insofar as they increase the overall happiness in the world. Following this doctrine, Mill would argue that it is almost patently true that the principle would endorse the torture of the child. Reason enough as it is to torture the child, the Utilitarian principle has an even deeper meaning embedded within. Utilitarians are not only concerned with the amount of happiness (good), but also with the quality of happiness and beings competent enough to appreciate it. …show more content…
First, the child in the broom closet is being denied their freedom of willing, choice, and autonomy. Indeed, one might note the child is even being denied its basic right of consenting. Therefore, this exchange between the citizens of Omelas and the child is not a “free exchange” insofar as coercion (force, threats of force, deception, etc.) seems to be the governing law of the exchange. Ergo, the child is being used as merely a means rather than an end. Next, one could argue that the child, being used as a means to the Omelas’ benefit, is a rational being. It follows then, from the Kantian view that the citizens’ manipulation of the child’s welfare as merely a means to their arbitrary end constitutes a wholly immoral act. Now there may be a number of objections to the Kantian interpretation. The main objection stems from the vagueness of the term “rational being” as applied to the child. Although it is stated in Le Guin’s short story that the child has a recollection of life outside of the cellar, its rational faculties are deteriorated to the point that we could not posit that it is a rational being. Therefore, the people of Omelas are right in torturing the child because it results in good for those who can appreciate it. This objection is a variant of the utilitarian argument, and it can be refuted quite easily. The repeated use of this child as a means to Omelas’ arbitrary ends may very well be the cause of the child’s developmental impairments. In a Kantian interpretation, this child is seen by Omelas as a thing, whose existence has a value for some other entity as opposed to an objective end, a being whose existence is an end in itself. Not only would Kant argue that the citizens of Omelas are complicit in a wholly immoral act, letting the child go would be a start in creating a more ideal state, the kingdom of ends. Although

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    Theories Of Surrogacy

    • 1688 Words
    • 7 Pages

    This essay will primarily address the issues related to CS, how it subordinates and externalises the well-being of the child. Hence, the answer to this question may vary depending on the context and situation. There is no definite answer to this question. However, in my perspective CS is immoral and it commodifies children in many problematic…

    • 1688 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    . they give Good a radically different meaning from the theories previously considered. They admit the existence of a good which consists in the satisfaction of desires, but they regard this as a non-moral Good.” (Dewey, 232) So they often to not believe in a moral good, but only a good that are determined by society. Dewey also states, “The conflict between the good and the right is acutely apparent in the cases in which social demands run counter to desire” (Dewey, 233). As an example of this he talks about a child being unable to run on grass since it is the property of another and it would be trespassing.…

    • 785 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    It is also undoubtfully nearly impossible for an individual to judge the moral consequences of an action as relating to every person said action will affect. This inability can be attributed to humans’ lacking quality of omniscience. However, I do agree with the stance on morality of Rule Utilitarianism. Rule Utilitarianism eliminates the immense amount of pressure placed on humans by Act Utilitarianism. The inherent nature of man is selfish: children must be taught to share and consider the feelings of others; they must be taught to be self-aware.…

    • 1277 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill are considered founders of Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is an ethical theory where moral rightness is measured by what brings the most happiness to the most people. Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism because it is based on whether an action is morally justified by its consequences. Bentham and Mill differ in that Bentham reasoned that pleasure was measurable using hedons, units of pleasure, where actions with the highest score were the best action. Instead of Bentham’s quantitative measurement, Mill emphasized the quality of happiness over the quantity.…

    • 728 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    W. K. Clifford states in his essay The Ethics of Belief that it is immoral to hold beliefs that are based on insufficient evidence. He suggests that to hold such a belief is harmful to oneself as well as others. Not only is it immoral to form a belief on insufficient reason, but it is also immoral to keep a belief while ignoring doubts or avoiding an honest perspective on the belief. Clifford uses two stories as examples of instances where people immorally kept a belief and the outcome benefitted them while hurting those around them. The central idea of Clifford’s essay is that a belief is not morally correct because of the issue of right or wrong but rather if the belief had been founded on proper grounds or if it was entertained on improper…

    • 706 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    However, Kant believes this feeling arises from reason. The difference between autistic individuals and psychopaths is in the psychopaths’ disregard for others. While this may seem to be problem of affective capacity, Kennett argues that the inability to consider others arises from the inability to find reasons to do so. Autistic individuals are capable of recognizing differences in behavior of themselves and others, making sense of them, and acting accordingly to the situation. Kennett argues that the Kantian account offers full moral agency to autistic individuals in this way as conscientious agents and claims that “reverence for reason is the core moral motive, the motive of duty.” Psychopaths do not engage with the environment in this way.…

    • 814 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    For example, if a rapist derives pleasure by molesting children, although it is seen as unmoral, why do Utilitarians believe that the greatest pleasure is considered morally right? From my perspective, pleasure is bad even if we are cautious and take responsibility of our actions the results will be satisfying without risking the happiness of others. Whereas, occasionally that is not the case, individuals are derived from common human characteristics like pride and selfishness, which may cause the emotional or physical pain of…

    • 554 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Mill used utilitarianism as a basis for ethics and he argued that we already do use utilitarianism as a moral standard. To Mill an action is right if it promotes happiness and it is wrong if it reverse happiness. Kant on the other hand bases his view of ethics on good will rather than the outcomes of happiness. As we read, utilitarianism focuses on outcomes of happiness, here we can concluded that it is based on ends, not on means or intentions. I do not totally agree with this however, a person could intend something bad and wrong but in the end, end up causing great happiness.…

    • 1351 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    In some cases evil isn’t a desired notion: one does not see their logical decision-making as evil. For instance, the work The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula Le Guin presents the idea furthering one’s self in society, even if costs harm to someone in society. This comes back to the idea is their evil in logical moral decision making. Are the people of Omelas evil for making this child suffer while they prosper? Ron Rosenbuam in The End of Evil?…

    • 1641 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    In this paper, I will argue that John Stuart Mill’s, act-utilitarianism (AU), does not fulfill the complexities of a person’s virtues and the influence it has on their motives. AU claims that an action is right if it brings the greatest amount of happiness for the general well-being. Furthermore, Mill believes that the concept of morality contains two of the main utilities in the Greatest Happiness Principle: a person’s actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. This means that all other desires a person has are to fulfill these actions. Mills acknowledges that the overly simplistic idea of the Happiness Principle may cause human happiness to seem no more sophisticated…

    • 972 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays