Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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I’m Doing This for the Wrong Reasons, and THAT’S OKAY. (Ethics) – Matthew Gosselin

Watch out, we’re jumping into hyperspace because I have no time to finish this but LETS GOOOOOOOOOOO

Personal Definitions:

Utilitarianism:

I like math and formulae. I like utilitarianism. Everything should end in a net positive result no matter what motives, actions or events are involved. A perfect action in a circumstance is one that would maximize the happiness of every person involved without granting any pain or displeasure to anyone. The equation would look something like this, and would be a ratio. ((Number of people who gained happiness)*(Average degree of happiness obtained))/((Number of people who received unhappiness)*(Average degree of unhappiness obtained)) A ratio like this, if put in practical use, would have to be determined as to how large the ratio must be to be considered moral. If the ratio is simply more than 1:1, then it would easily allow people to defend themselves on the case of mass murder, such as the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to stop the war, due to the fact that it “saved” more than 60,000 people. Granted, you are not able to accurately say the degree of happiness or pain that is received by each person involved. (To be in any way possible as well to avoid complete bias, there would need to be one government of the world to implement this.)

Categorical Imperative:

This one is sketchy, and even harder to implement. However, it is a feel-good perspective on morality. (WHICH COMPLETELY RUINS THE OBJECTIVE OF IT.) The Categorical Imperative is an action and motive-based code of ethics. If you have a pure heart, and your intentions are pure, the results of your actions are negligible. You are to act as though your actions determine the universal law of what actions to take in those scenarios. If you see someone on the sidewalk who has fallen down and seems injured, and you believe that helping is the right thing to do, then do it. You should act this way because you believe that if anyone falls down, people should have a natural inclination to help them back up. In some ways it restores a sense of humanity, but there are some loopholes in this picture. For starters, if everyone immediately rushed to help up people who have fallen down, there would be more car accidents on pedestrians running to help people. An infinite number of things would be changed because of every single universal law. Also laws may conflict with another simply because of a different motive when approaching the same scenario. People inherently have different ideas on what, “the right thing to do,” may be, and there is no way to properly determine what it is unless a democratic vote of the world is in place, in which it would simply favor utilitarianism in my opinion. (By benefiting the most people.) Finally, you may approach the same scenario as someone else and take the same action but be considered immoral due to having the “wrong” motive. (Not to mention the fact that having pure moral is nearly impossible, due to a natural self-satisfaction gained by believing that you’re doing the right thing. Also it’s nearly impossible to not see a shred of self-interest in every action taking place.) Not only that, the, “right thing to do,” might end in a terrible result for many people.

What Do I Use:

In all honesty, I act upon a morality separate from both of these, because I am human and am naturally inclined towards self-interest over others’ interests. If two strangers and I were strapped to separate train tracks with no means of escape, and a train was on its way, and the only way for me to live was to use a mic strapped to me to tell the conductor to change course onto the other train tracks and kill the other people, I would do it. Nearly every single person would. I’m sorry that I value my life above others. (Besides, there’s always the idea of solipsism.) To what degree, I’m not sure. I don’t know how many people it would take on those other train tracks for me to change my decision to suicide, and for what moral reason. Would it be simply to preserve life (Utilitarianism), or because it’s the right thing to do (Categorical Imperative), or because I’d like to be remembered as a hero? (“Poor” moral reasoning) However, I am able to say that I would like to incorporate Utilitarianism more into my everyday life. Not simply by means of results, but the process involved before I take action. I would like to talk to and understand people more before I take actions that could cause negative results on others, and specifically how it would impact them to know if my actions are moral. I would also like to be able to make a decision that would benefit the whole instead of just my little slice.

One Current Issue:

An issue I believe needs solving is that of massive corporations, such as Walmart and McDonald’s. Although they provide services to which many people enjoy, the cut that the CEO’s are taking is massive. The Walmart family is worth roughly $130 billion dollars, but they pay over 90% of their employees minimum wage. I believe there should always be incentive and ability for people to become wealthy, but not at the expense of others to this degree. A perspective that includes both Utilitarianism and the Categorical Imperative ideas would be beneficial. First of all, within the Categorical Imperative, there lies the simple value that states it is morally wrong to deprive your workers from basic needs in life. A utilitarian point of view would state that the mediocre degree of happiness cherished by the ridiculously rich Walton family is heavily outweighed by the sadness experienced by the thousands of workers employed by Walmart. In a world enforced by Utilitarianism, they would be forced to bite the bullet and improve the pay and quality of life of their workers. Finally, self-interest can even be incorporated with this example. If this action was to take place, Walmart would gain a better reputation as a respected company that pays workers fairly and treats them with care. This, in exchange, would elevate the number of customers walking in the door and number of applicants.

Matthew Gosselin

Empirical Philosopher

 

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