Utilitarianism In John Stuart Mill's Nicomachean Ethics
According to John Stuart Mill, the doctrine of Utilitarianism is that happiness is desirable, and the only thing desirable, as an end; all other things being desirable as means to that end. In applying Utilitarianism to ethical dilemmas, it is important to assess the issue by discerning it as right or wrong based on the virtue of the dilemma’s consequences. With the consequences assessed, the amount of happiness and unhappiness is the only thing relevant to the consequences. It is also important to note that each and every person’s happiness counts as equal. Thus, a utilitarian must be impartial in the midst of moral judgment.
For the utilitarian, the decision to sacrifice one life to save more than one is a rather easy decision …show more content…
He believes that we should act according to moral virtue which is “a trait of character, manifested in habitual action, that is good for anyone to have.”
When approaching the lifeboat situation, Virtue Ethics are difficult to apply as it is argued it does not act normally like an approach to ethical dilemmas like Kantianism or Utilitarianism. In fact, it does not fit squarely into pegs that are thought experiments and this lifeboat situation is no different. So, instead of focusing on the virtues of the passengers, we must consider what are the virtues that encompass a virtuous captain.
A short list of virtues that encompass that of a captain includes courage, compassion dependability, fairness, and tactfulness. It takes courage to sacrifice a life to save many others. Yet an inclination of reluctance to kill anyone shows compassion. While virtue ethicists would lean toward inaction in cases where such radical decisions limit the avenue to display morality, the sacrifice must be made to assert herself as a virtuous captain. As Aristotle’s approach weighs out an individual's character and motivation, the most appropriate way to apply Virtue Ethics is by analyzing Mallory’s intentions to not only save the most amount of lives possible but intentions of choosing a specific person to