Well here goes my second attempt at explaining the tool mechanism of utilitarianism in practical ethics. Despite the last one being a friendly tribute to someone on the board, it was deemed somehow offensive and closed yet a thread directed at me saying all sorts of insulting things still exists.
So here I try again. Old buddy/rival (you know who are) again Iinvite you to review and critisize my work in the hopes of better modeling my ideas :sl:
Let us begin with a quick explination of what utilitarianism is. There many variations dealing with different factors and scope but the fundamental mantra is "the greatest good/happiness for the greatest number". Usually associated with it is a Machiveillian flavor of 'ends justifies means'.
Not at first glance (assuming you are muslim, christian, liberal) you think what an abhorrant take on ethics but it my intention to prove you are all at heart, secret utilitarians;)
When compared with the aforementioned ethical models, there is a clear surface distinction between them. Namely, they hold up 'human lives' and 'values' over the bottom line of utilitarians.
On paper this is wonderful. One can do many things, accomplish many goals, and never have to feel guilty...all on paper of course...
The problem lies when you make the transition from the abstract to the practical.
Given a situation where all there is, is unpleasant options, youll find pure abstractness will fail almost immediately.
For an example, let us say you are a fireman. There are two buildings both on the verge of collapse. One has 2 ppl, the other 6. You only have enough time to save one group. Which is best? Regardless of your decision, someone dies.
Id assume most of you regardless of ethical background would say saving the 6ppl is the best option simply because it is the most. How did you come to that conclusion?
Time for a deeper look wouldnt you say?
For those of you who have taken philosophy (or have to much time on your hands ), youll know 'good' and 'happiness' are incredibly abstract and subjuective terms. They can mean just about anything! For sake of simplicity, let us call it our *function*
Function then is what is perceived to be best possible good or happiness maximizer. It can range from GDP (the function used in industrial countries) to values and virtues (used in communitarian societies of the past) to even pleasing of a deity (role of Shaiah, following the teaching of Jesus etc.)
So the reason for your choice was simple mathmatics. Human lives was your function, 6 being greater than 2 and greater than -8 made your choice easy. 6 maximizes overall human happiness as defined by life!
To quickly sum up, the only way to not complete seperate yourself from utilitarianism, is to be either completely apathetic or a god. Being human limits your options so you try to find best possible option depending on the function you have chosen.
Utilitarianism is merely a tool that *is always* implimented when a ethical model is transitioned from abstract to practical because of our limited human nature.