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i am a master student and am currently writing an essay on benthams utilitarianism. As i am a student of a completely different field, i did not get in touch with moral theories before this essay. Thus i am not sure if my outline is correct, although i find it very interesting. I would be super happy to discuss therefore the following outlines of my essay with you to see if i stepped on the right or wrong theories and if i understood everything correctly.
Thanks in advance for reading and if you usually don´t get those kind of questions, please ignore this thread. However, i have not many friends who have studied bentham before so i cannot discuss it with them.
1.most human beings are nowadays only concerned when they are physically affected by something. Consider the example with environment, when we cannot see or feel something we are indifferent towards it. It is proven that climate change will have an enormous effect on the earth and future generations, the pollution of the sea is a major issue and still, people continue to exploit the earth how they want to as it can minimize their own pleasure. Volkswagen recently had the so-called diesel gate, where they faked emissions to get the approval to sell their cars without having to install further technology. Although the company and those that were involved have got into major trouble, many citizens continue buying the companies cars and call for no regulations on the polluting engines as this could have a negative impact on their life
2: A plane is captured over the ocean and the terrorists threaten to fly it into a big city. The government sends out two fighter jets to shoot down the plane before thousands of people are killed when the plane crashes into a crowded area. In this situation, a utilitarian would suggest that it is a morally right act based on the result that only one hundred people in the plane die compared to more than 100 in the city center. However, it could turn out that passengers regain control of the plane or that the terrorists change their mind and land the plane safely on the closest airport. If this scenario was about to happen, it would have been a morally wrong act to shoot the plane down. Thus, human beings would have to be omniscient in order to always act morally right.
3: . Just imagine the situation of two students who are writing their philosophy essay. One of the students hates the subject and only wants to get a good grade by copying other opinions from the internet. The other, of course also wants to get a good grade, but is besides that really interested in the course and tries to think about human nature and moral decisions to learn something for his life. His motive is therefore not only based on getting a good grade but also to offer the teacher something in return to the teachers’ investment in teaching business students ethical principles. In the end, both essays get the same result, because the professor did not figure out that the former essay was copied from several different authors. This is completely fine from the utilitarian view, but would it not be a better world if we had more people who valued something and tried to act in ways which focus on empathetic behavior rather than only act towards a result?
4: In real life, it is also complicated to calculate the expected net pleasures of all involved parties and is very subjective in its process. Think of a girl, who wants to buy herself a new handbag. The money she spends could have been donated for a greater good as well, but the girl can simply justify her decision by pointing out that the people who have built the handbag will be able to earn some money for their families, the company receives money and can further pay its employees and she will be content with the product she bought.
These are the points that i understood were basic weaknesses of benthams theory. Would you argue differently here and when yes, why?
Thanks again for reading and best regards