Utilitarianism In Saving Private Ryan

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Utilitarianism is one of the persuasive approaches to ethics in the history of philosophy. It is widely used by everyone on a daily basis but has barely gotten recognition it deserves. Utilitarianism was founded in Ancient Greece but was not popularly used until the 19th century when it was re-introduced by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. While both men are credited as two of the most influential people in the foundation of, what we now consider, ethical theory. The approach in which we utilize the theory to make decisions is different from each other. In addition to discussing the two theorist’s views regarding utilitarianism, I will overview how the ethics of Utilitarianism was applied in the movie I am familiar with; Saving Private …show more content…
The premise of the movie is about a mother who is about to get three telegrams stating that three of her four sons have been killed in action in WWII. The U.S military feels great remorse for her loss and sends a team of men into the warzone to retrieve her last remaining son to return him home to his mother. In the film, there are two examples of Utilitarianism. The first relates to Bentham’s theory of greatest happiness. The seven-man squad is walking through the French countryside and walks upon a few dead American soldiers. They spot a radio bunker with German troops stationed there, so the squad members tell their captain that they can just sneak past the bunker and continue on with their mission. The captain replies no and that they need to take out the Germans at the bunker, because he doesn’t want any other American soldiers to be ambushed. At that moment Bentham’s theory of “primal” good was applied in that situation as that was definitely an action focused on getting the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of …show more content…
Bentham’s theory could not be applied in that case due to the fact that they were each willing to risk their own lives, so collectively risking all seven lives of the rescue squad, for the sake of one life. That exact instance would fall under Mill’s theory of pleasures. The men of the rescue team sent to save Private Ryan were making decisions to achieve their own personal higher pleasures. they were each driven to satisfy their own intellectual, spiritual, and emotional pleasures, even if each team member may have viewed happiness differently. All the squad members were each driven by their dedication to the Army, to one another, and to the

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