The first question which was ever asked by the conscious man was, perhaps, what is right and what is wrong. Today, thousands of years later, we struggle still with that very idea. One may find their truth in their own lifetime, but as they die their truth does not remain, rather, the question is born anew with the next generation, and only remnants of their conclusions linger.
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And so, I explore what is right and wrong, here, in 2018, at the University of Southern Indiana, since I cannot accept the answers of my forefathers without my own questionings. Thinkers of old tell us of things like Utilitarianism and Emotivism. They tried, through these theories, to teach us how to handle the trials of life, such as abortion, capital punishment, and euthanasia. Now, though, I will sift through a few of the theories which seek to describe our being, Utilitarianism and Emotivism, and find what they may tell us today of abortion, capital punishment, and euthanasia.
Utilitarianism is the belief that what is right is the course which provides the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. That, of itself, is a very broad statement, which philosophers have broken down into two main flavors. There is act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism states that what is right for the greatest number of people should be considered for each circumstance from a point of view which is independent of any pre-standing laws or moral conceptions. Rule utilitarianism differs in that it considers what is right in a circumstance to be not only governed by what will provide the greatest good, but also by what follows the laws of man or generally accepted moral rules. The main tenant of utilitarianism is that the pleasure of one must be sacrificed for the pleasure of many (Driver, 2009).
The moral compass of Utilitarianism is set by the quantity of good of one path versus another. Specifically, hedonic calculus, laid out by Jeremy Benthall, is intended to calculate the overall good of one decision versus another. By deriving which path will cause the greatest good, not just good for oneself and family, the right and moral path can be chosen (Driver, 2009).
Utilitarianism, both the Act and Rule sects, is viewed to apply to all people, everywhere, throughout history. No one is exempt from the utilitarian rule of choosing the greatest good for the greatest number of people. There has never been a king, nor beggar, who should have not first considered the well-being of the masses before eating his bread. Utilitarianism is all encompassing (Smart,
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