Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Morality & Veganism – Nazlie Najafi

Utilitarianism

  • Doing what provides the most pleasure to the most people

  • Can sometimes result in “taking one for the team” (sacrificing your own pleasure in order to do more good overall)

  • Example ~ ordering pizza instead of my preferred take-out because it would produce the most pleasure for my house-guests

  • On a larger scale, utilitarianism leaves out the minority – which can lead to awful things. The “greater good” is very subjective, and what may benefit one group of people, could demolish another. In my opinion this is a deal breaking flaw of utilitarianism. It would be harmful to apply it to many situations (if I worked in a racist workplace, I would hate for my coworkers to make every decision based off of what they believe is the “greater good”, this would be extremely harmful and unproductive.)

Kant – Categorical Imperative

  • Basically “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

  • It is not fair to make exceptions for yourself, imagine your actions/moral values universalized – moral rules should apply to everyone

  • “Always as an end, never as a mere means” do not do things only for your own benefit, always take the interests of the thing you’re using into mind

  • Although I prefer the categorical imperative, I believe that all people differ in what they consider harmful, and regardless of how pure our intentions are, the impact could still end up harming others

Personally, I believe that on a smaller scale, doing things that benefit the majority is the respectful thing to do, (working on a group project in school, choosing food for a party, the railway situation that was given in the harvard justice video, any situation as long as it doesn’t cause anyone serious harm or contribute to social barriers.) However, on a larger scale I think utilitarianism can be dangerous and unproductive, and we must take in the interests of the minority and include them in the picture or we may never heal social/economic barriers.

I also really like how Kant’s categorical imperative builds up empathy in us, and forces us to call ourselves out for being selfish and harmful. I think this could completely change the way we think in regards to the environment and could lead to tons of positive change. I’d definitely apply Kant’s categorical imperative to situations where utilitarianism is harmful, and in almost all situations, as long as the impact does not harm others.

A personal issue I can apply my morality to is my veganism. Over winter break, I went vegan solely because I wanted to clear up my skin. I honestly didn’t really care about the entire environmental and animal rights aspect of veganism, I’d always brush it off because I saw both as trivial (which I’m aware was very ignorant of me.) After learning about the categorical imperative in class, I realized that I was only using veganism as a “means” to clear up my skin, not because I cared about all of terrible things the meat/dairy industry does to the environment and to animals. I was not a vegan out of empathy for animals, I had my secret evil vain motives. However, now that I can apply my newfound morality to the situation, I decided to look into the environmental benefits that come with veganism. I completely see the diet as an “end” in itself, and even though my skin has not cleared up one bit, I am continuing the diet because I believe it’s the ethically and morally correct thing to do.

 

 

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