For this week try the experiment “Should you kill the fat man”? Link : http://www.philosophyexperiments.com/fatman/Default.aspx
on the philosophy experiments website. Let us know whether the experiment said your view was consistent and your thoughts about the moral dilemma it presents. It is also fair game to criticize the conclusions the website draws about your views.
Write at least THREE paragraphs about your results and your reactions to the thought experiment. Include the following:
Explain briefly to your reader what the thought experiment is. (This will help you have a conversation with others that don’t know what it is.)
Why do you think it is right or wrong to flip the switch to save 5 people?
Why do you think it is right or wrong to push the man off the bridge to save 5 people?
Define Utilitarianism. Are you a Utilitarian?
What were your results? Are you consistent or inconsistent in your ethical intuitions?
Remember to write in formal style and check your grammar. Paragraphs are 3-6 sentences long. Aim at writing SUFFICIENTLY. Never assume that your reader knows the concepts or thought experiments– explain it.
The experiment is trying to test the psychological consistency of the people. This is because when you respond to one question the next question is also connected to the first question and the way you respond to it will determine if you have consistency in your judgment or not. I personally feel it is wrong to flip the switch and save the five people because an innocent person will die. The 5 people on the railway line are wrong because they know that this is a train’s road and yet they walk recklessly on it while the other person on the side is very innocent and there is no need to direct the train to crush him. It is wrong to push the man off the bridge to save five people because the man has the right to life and he cannot just be pushed to save the other people yet he has done nothing wrong. Utilitarianism is simply an action’s consequences whereby if it maximizes the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people then it is the right action. Personally, I am not a utilitarian because some actions might be causing harm to a few innocent people. My results were inconsistent. This is because I had agreed that it is good to maximize the benefit for the greatest number of people but I disagreed with the issue of knocking an innocent person off the railway line with a train to save the lives of 5 people on the line.
We are now in a position to compare and contrast Utilitarianism and Kant’s deontology. The following exercise of the imagination is designed to do precisely that.
Assess the Strengths and Weaknesses of Utilitarianism and Kant’s deontology.
Make use of the imagination and creativity in thinking about ethical issues.
Consider the two hypothetical worlds below.
- In which world would you rather live?
- In which world would Mill find to be a morally better world? Why?
- In which world would Kant find to be a morally better world? Why?
- Which world do you think is closer (has more properties) to our world?
Answer the above questions in essay style (do not type the numbers in). Make sure you give me evidence that you understand Kant and Mill. Always separate your explanation of Kant from your explanation of Mill. Always use separate paragraphs for explanations versus assessments (e.g. “I agree” is an assessment.) 2 or 3 paragraphs should be sufficient for this assignment (1 or 2 paragraphs on items #2-4 on the list above and 1 paragraph on item #1). Each paragraph should be well developed (100 words or more) and be sure to use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.
World A. The land of good motives:
The good news about this world is that everyone living in it means well– they always act on good intentions. The bad news is that they aren’t very smart– they rarely achieve their intended consequences, and they often make things worse. There are few technological advances in this world, due to clumsiness. Even so, there are no ill-intentioned people living here. One can always find a friendly neighbor willing to lend a helping hand– never mind that in helping, something is apt to break.
World B. The land of good consequences:
In this world, everyone is driven by greed– every action is motivated by selfish considerations. Because of the money to be made from medical breakthroughs, there is virtually no physical illness in this world– greed-driven research has led to cures for almost all diseases. Similar benefits account for technological breakthroughs in virtually every aspect of life. In terms of technology, this is utopia. But watch your back: the people in this world would sell out their best friend for a dime.
I would rather live in world A because at least people are not driven by greed but rather exercise some form of rational thinking in every action they take. John Stuart Mill would rather live in World A because he proposed that actions are right if they maximize happiness for the greatest number of people. However, Kant would likely live in world B because he believed that things exist in themselves but their nature is unknown. Such are the perspectives of individuals in world B. I personally feel that world B is closer to our world because at least most individuals take actions in our world due to greed and selfish ambitions. Every person wants to maximize their own happiness regardless of how their actions affect other people, which is similar to the individuals in world B.