Gurwinder Singh Professor Denniston Ethics of Engagement 11/15/10 We all end up at a point where we have to respond to an issue positively. That is possible when a good amount of experience to certain situations is attained. “The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals ‘utility’ or the ‘greatest happiness principle’ holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” – John Stuart Mill.
This particular quote refers to the utilitarian approach which states that in all our actions we must always strive to produce the greatest possible balance of good or evil. The utilitarian approach deals with consequences. It tries both to increase the good done and to reduce the harm done. Immanuel Kant was an important component in modern philosophy. He combined together early modern rationalism and empiricism and continues to practice an important influence today in ethics.He disputes that the human understanding is the source of the general laws of nature that structure all our experience and that human reason gives itself the moral law, which is our basis for belief in God, freedom, and immortality.
“Act in such a way that you always treat humanity whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end”- Immanuel Kant. In this particular quote Kant gives us a message to treat people with respect and never get them to believe something that doesn’t exist.Carol Gilligan maintains that the morality of males is different from that of females. Males view rules and principles as necessary to proceed in a practice (a game, an art, a science, the making and sustaining of a community). Females, on the other hand, give fundamental importance to the consistency of relationships with other people. Gilligan describes male morality as a morality of principles while female morality is a morality of care. My ethical decision was made in terms of John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant and Carol Gilligan.There was a time when I encountered a situation in college where I had to make an ethical decision.
I was in the middle of studying for my psychology quiz until a colleague, from my psychology class, came up to me and asked me to devote some time for his psychology homework. I first thought of the effects it would have on me and my responsibilities. I had very little time and needed that time to understand the lesson along with some vocabularies for the quiz.
I was half way through and didn’t want to forget the previous words that I had memorised. It would have been a bad idea to go help him right away.It was during my first year of college and my family demanded outstanding grades. I personally enjoy helping others because it makes me feel happy, so I definitely didn’t want to deny. The only option I had was to help him later. I responded and told him that I was in the middle of studying for the quiz and if he can come back in a little while, I would be able to help him. I finished my work and then helped him right after I was done.
At the end it kept me from facing any negative consequences and my colleague had a better understanding of the material.I believe that my decision was correlated with Mill’s decision because I made use of the “utilitarian calculus” by weighing the positive and negative consequences of my decision. Weighing the consequences of each possible course of action that the greatest good will ultimately be achieved by telling him to come back in a while. Many people engage in this type of utilitarian calculus automatically when they are attentive about important decisions in life. Whenever we weigh the pros and cons of a particular action, we are fundamentally engaged in a type of utilitarian calculus.According to Mill’s a rule utilitarian would maintain that instead of each individual acting to bring about the greatest amount of good over evil, everyone should follow those rules that would be beneficial for all. Finishing up my work and then devoting some time to help him kept me from doing poor on my quiz. On the other hand Immanuel Kant’s principle of morality was involved with my decision.
I always try to respond to a situation by putting myself in someone else’s shoes before making a critical decision. After my colleague requested me for some help I did not want to deny and cause him to fail.If I were to be in a similar situation I would also ask someone to help me for a better understanding. If someone denied the help I would feel unaccepted and think of that individual as being selfish. I wouldn’t want someone to be having that kind of perspective towards me. I wanted to respect his need and kind request.
My decision was also made in terms of Carol Gilligan. I weighed certain consequences that I would have to go through. I was also attentive towards my families demanding of good grades. I evaluated the priorities at stakes. I wanted to help him have a better understanding of the topic.I also evaluated the consequences he would have to go through.
I thought of it as more of a “justice approach” because I would prevent him from not doing his homework or not doing well on the quiz. My approach to this specific dilemma was very similar to that of Gilligan, Kant, and Mill. It was similar in one way or the other. The reading was very beneficial because there were many situations that were dealt in terms of morality, pros and cons, and the justice approach.
My decision included these qualities. I have now a better understanding in dealing with certain situations and how to proceed.