This essay entails a detailed analysis of the ethical as well as the legal issues of the case study that has been provided, within the framework of the ethical theory of utilitarianism. First, the term ethics has been defined, and the relationship between the utilitarianism theory, morality and the nature of morality explored. Ethics is that conscious reflection on our moral values that attempts to improve, refine, or even extend our moral values in one way or the other. Since human beings are ethical in nature, the utilitarianism theory is thus an attempt at responding to our ethical nature as human beings.
As such, the utilitarianism theory tries to explain not just morality, but the nature of morality as well. Motive utilitarianism as an arm of the utilitarianism theory, and which bears a valid relevance to this case study has also been explored. The moral philosophy version of the utilitarian theory was an initiative of Jeremy Bentham. According to this version, an action ought not to be judged by the happiness that it seems to confer to the performer of such an act, but rather on the basis of its being able to offer benefits to all who are involved.
In other words, the pleasure and happiness of the greater society, as opposed to that of an individual, is emphasized on. The moral rightness of the characters depicted in the case study has also been assessesed, as has the legal theory of utilitarianism, within the context of this case study. In this regard, the utilitarianism theory seems to be mired by a controversy; on the basis that an individual will normally do what is deemed morally right based on the circumstances.
In light of this then, perhaps it would only be right if we all strove to do justice for the common good. Finally, a brief overview of the essay that attempts to recap the main points of the text has also been explored. Introduction Ethics has been defined as the conscious reflection on our moral values with a view to improving, refining, or extending those values in one way or the other. The utilitarianism theory attempts to respond to human being’s ethical nature. The main objective of utilitarianism is to try and explain the morality as well as the nature of morality.
As an ethical theory, utilitarianism has its basis hinged upon utility, or the act of doing that which is capable of producing the greatest happiness (Gardiner, 2005). A utilitarian holds the belief that the consequence of a morality act results when such an act is able to yield consequences whose overall utility is to the benefit of everyone. Conversely a failure to produce the greatest possible utility in effect means that the action in question is morally wrong (Railton & Railton, 2003).
According to this view, it can then be opined that a person is supposed to act in such a manner as to produce the greatest overall pleasure and happiness for all the people that may be affected by an action, be it directly, or indirectly. For this reason, a utilitarian believes that the corresponding consequences for every action ought to weigh against the alternatives that have been proposed before one can decide if at all it is worth performing such an action consistent with that of another. Ethical theory of Utilitarianism
The utilitarian theory, as a version of the moral philosophy was initiated by Jeremy Bentham, and later on refined as well as popularized by John Stuart Mill. The theory has proved to be among the most useful theories on ethics. It is also the most widely utilized theory in the everyday decisions of the common sense. According to Jeremy Bentham, an action ought not to be judged by the happiness that it seems to confer to the performer of such an act, but rather on the basis of its being able to offer benefits to all who are involved. Jeremy was of the idea that the interests of everyone ought to be treated equally.
Since utilitarianism is used in reference to those moral theories whose premise is that an action is only morally right as long as its consequences hinges more on the favorable rather than the unfavorable, it then follows that the determination of the correct moral conduct will be solely based on an analysis of the consequences of such an action. For utilitarianism to work, the requirement is that both the good and the bad consequences of an action be tallied, so that one may determine whether or not the good consequences far much outweigh the bad ones (Lyons, 1997).
In an instance whereby the good consequences tends to be more, then the consequences of such an action becomes morally proper. On the other hand, if the bad consequences rein supremacy, then the action is assumed to be morally improper. The idea that one gets from this scenario is that such a process seems to be more or less subjective. In addition, the determination by a single individual as to what constitutes the greatest utility may fail to be Various thinkers have labeled utility as pleasure or happiness/as the good that ought to be maximize. This is the good that ought to be maximized.
Nevertheless, such preference utilitarians as Peter Singer have defined utility as the satisfaction of preferences. Owing to the role of utilitarianism to accord the best to the common good, the theory can thus be characterized on the basis of assuming both a reductionist and a quantitative approach to ethics (Lyons, 1997). This is in sharp contrast to the deontological ethics that fails to accord due regard to the consequences of an act as the single determinant of the moral worth of such an action. On the other hand, the virtue ethics is mainly focused on the character, and a number of consequentialism (Gardiner, 2005).
Motive utilitarianism With respect to the provided case study, and from the perspective of a motive utilitarianist, perhaps the best question to ask would be, is Mark morally perfect? First, Mark accidentally stumbles upon confidential files while on a vacation trip in a company house in Florida. The information that is contained therein is about a possible merger of his company with another. The first impulse that came into his mind was for him to seek for a job elsewhere, because he anticipated a downsizing to take place.
Lucky for him, he lands another job courtesy of the efforts of his long-time friend William. However, while filling out the application forms, mark fails to pint out that he had once been jailed for a check fraud. In addition, on a recent business trip, the airline company with which he flew in had to reimburse back $ 1,200 when the pain that he was supposed to fly in that particular night got over-booked. For his pains of having waited till the next morning, the airline gave him back $ 1,200. He later told his friend William that the company told him to keep the money.
Considering that this was a business trip, rather than a personal trip, the air fair was most definitely settled by the company. Therefore, would it not be ethically correct then, that in the event of a refund that the same airline should also get it? Could it be true that the company told mark to keep the money, or could he have not even mentioned the happenings to the company? Considering that he never reported a mistake that amounts to legal charges; having been jailed and never reporting it to a potential employer, it would not be surprising that he might as well have lied to his friend.
What is more, the parents have been divorced for over 10 years, and he never told his best friends, clearly the question of how perfect morally mark could be comes to mind here. Is Mark morally perfect? According to Lyons (1997), rightness in action is concerned with choosing between available options. On the other hand, Lyons opines that having the best motives does not allow for such a choice. Lyons (1997) further opines that act utilitarianism holds that when someone has done their duty, then they have acted right. In this regard, William could be seen to have acted rightly, by assisting his friend mark get a job.
Even where an act is wrong, Lyons (1997) argues that this could be attributed to the lack of possessing the best motives. This scenario seems to create a sense of incompatibility. As a result, we could as well now ask not if Mark had a perfect motive, but rather whether he had the best possible motive among those that were available to him. In the present context, “best possible” is taken to mean that bringing about from a motive as much net utility as possible. Could Mark have had better motives by virtue of the way that he was brought up, thus dictating his choice of life, or could it be due to his having made different choices in life?
It would not be in order to assume here that mark left his former place of work to come and taint the name of his friend William. Again, we cannot assume that Mark chose to keep the $ 1,200 that the airline reimbursed to him. Perhaps his actions were right, and that is why the company had no problem with him keeping the money. Another possible option to explore would be whether Mark; in the event that he had the best possible motives would still have acted wrongly by virtue of the act-utilitarian standard.
On the whole, the greatest utility would be achieved if mark has a strong motivation to be honest, to an extent he does not lie about ever having been jailed for cheque fraud. To a firm believer in act utilitarianism, the impression obtained that judgment of character appears inconsequential in action guiding appears like a perspective illusion. By broadening our gaze to absorb decisions that will impact the character that we assume, then the act utilitarianism provides us with all the necessary in-juncture force needed for giving weight to character (Louden, 1992).
Legal theory of Utilitarianism The legal theory of utilitarianism holds that moral obligation comes about as a result of men binding themselves to obeying certain laws, as well as the keeping of the same. This act is thought to contribute to their mutual understanding (Pyle et al, 1998). However, such a moral obligation may not originate with the formation of an adjustment scheme that is devised and compacted by men as they attempts to build a social order. This is because the feasibility of a scheme of this nature will be based on prior moral sense of the parties in contract.
Even though discipline and improvement maybe called for in such a situation, these however are not in a position to create such an occasion. Perhaps this case study is bets explained from the perspective of the accidental theory. According to this theory, moral obligation is purely accidental, having been created courtesies of nature’s development process, and this is what brought man to the moral consciousness platform (Posner, 2001). If this were the case, how come that William does not appear to know his friends Mark, after all those years?
Could it be that the level of moral obligation between William and Mark is so great as to warrant suspicion on the part of William over his friend? Thomas, the former business partner of Jennifer, fails to honor a pledge over a business deal even as the deadline passes on. This situation makes as wary of the level to which personalities differ with respect to moral authority. The behavior that is portrayed by Thomas is contrary to Bentham’s opinion about happiness for all. Surely, this is also a sharp contrast to the dictates of the utilitarianism theory. Instead of making everybody happy, no one ends up being happy.
The other business partners as well as Jennifer are hurt when the deal fails to go through. William is also a little bit concerned when mark reveals to his reason for having left the former employer, and also his failure to reveal to the current employer that he had once been jailed. Now that William knows the truth, will he divulge the details to this boss, or is his friendship with mark, whom he has also claimed nit to really know very well, too great to sacrifice? According to Railton and Railton (2003), motive utilitarianism starts with the moral evaluation of the actual motive possession.
Sadly, it also ends her. Motive utilization does not, for instance, indicate whether right action is based on motive. Indeed, it does not have even an indirect implication through which an action can be assessed. As such, the having of a motive does not constitute an action, and even though cultivating moral good motives would normally entail a number of actions, motive utilitarianism tends to remain silent on whether individuals ought to act in a way that would encourage good motives in either us, or others (Railton &Railton, 2003).
It is important here to consider the utilitarian theory of Bentham, and assess whether it might have an influence on the economics and law movements, independent of any other particular application of utilitarianism to law. To do this would call for a distinction between utilitarianism from the perspective of an ethical theory (Posner, 2001). There are certain features of the utilitarian theory that will from the outset, often call for a clarification. To start with, the utilitarian theory is a social justice as well as a personal morality theory.
As such, a good man is often perceived as the one whom attempts to maximize his own happiness as well as that of others. This is quite evident in this case study, as we see William going out of his way to secure a job for his long-time friend. His boss is also eager to enlist mark as one of the employees. Additionally, both William and his fiancee Jennifer also would wish to give their friends the best wedding party ever. On the other hand, a good society seeks also to maximize the subtotal of happiness (Pyle et al, 1998).
In this regard, William’s and Jennifer’s neighbors join in with the couple as they host a house warming party. Conclusion Utilitarianism can be viewed at as a philosophy based on the premise that the moral worth of an action is based on its level of contribution to the overall utility. In other words, the total sum of the pleasure and happiness amongst all the people should be seen to outweigh the happiness and pleasure that is derived by a single person.
As such, this acts as a form of consequentialism, and this has the implication that an actions;’ moral worth determines its outcome as well. This simply means that the end justifies the means. The utilitarianism theory hinges on the premises that an action is only morally right as long as its consequences remain more favorable, rather unfavorable. In addition, it would not be prudent to assume that the actions of an individual that causes then to offend others, as Mark did, is based wholly on a lack of moral rightness.
In this regard, the utilitarianism theory seems to be mired by a controversy; on the basis that individual will normally do what is deemed morally right based on the circumstances. In light of this then, perhaps it would only be right if we all strove to do justice for the common good. Even in instances where this does not happen, we should be slow at pointing fingers at others, as sometimes, the good consequences of a n action will normally outweighs the bad consequences. At such a point, a majority of the people, according to the utilitarianism theory, will then find pleasure and happiness.