Make sure to review the two Moral Frameworks The Good– which is Utilitarianism (Morality based on Good or Bad Consequences)– and The Right– which is Deontology (Morality based on Duty and Rights).1000 WORDSObjective of this assignment: To put theories into conversation with each other, in order to appreciate that:Ideas are not isolated or made in a vacuum, but are created by real people grappling with real issues in conversation with others.Disagreements aren’t just matters of opinion, but rather can reveal underlying value frameworks. For instance, by analyzing the underlying frameworks of Mill’s Utilitarianism and Kant’s Deontology, we see that Mill and Kant don’t merely disagree with what is moral or not, but they also seem to THINK about morality differently.This matters because it allows us to see that perspectives that are unfamiliar (or that we disagree with) are often nevertheless rooted in value systems that can be shared or at least understood. Recognizing underlying value systems is one of the first and best ways to move forward when people who disagree deeply are at an impasse. Other Objectives: Learn to express your ideas clearly and concisely in writing.Learn the argument essay format.Practice critical thinking by evaluating moral theories and constructing your own argument.


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Assignment Instructions:
For this assignment we will use a thought experiment like the Trolley problem we discussed
in class.
Suppose you are a train conductor on a runaway train. The train heads straight for five men
who will not have time to get out of the way, and your train will kill them. But! You notice
there is a track going to the right, and you have just enough time to pull the lever and turn
onto that track. There is one person on that track who will die just as assuredly as the five
would if you stayed on their track. Should you head to the right?
You will write an essay of approximately 1000 words which describes what you think John
Stuart Mill (or Bentham) would recommend that you do in the train scenario, what
Immanuel Kant would do in the train scenario, and what you would do in the train scenario
and why you would choose to do that. This paper requires that you use in-text citations for
any quotations you include and that you create a references page citing all of the references
that you quote in the paper. You may use MLA style citations
Introduction (1 or 2 paragraphs):
Your introductory paragraph should have the following (not necessarily in this order).
A. Thesis statement- You should state what you think is best to do in the situation described
by the scenario. I think I should___________________. Fill in the blank with either divert
the train to the right killing one person or not divert the train to the right even though this
will result in the death of five people.
B. Background for the thesis. This should include mentioning that you will be evaluating
what Utilitarianism and Deontology say about this thought experiment and a brief
description of the thought experiment.
C. Plan of the Paper. It might help your reader to tell them how your paper will go.
Something like: “I will begin by describing what John Stuart Mill would have me do in this
situation. Next, I will contrast that with what Kant’s moral theory
Body Part I:
John Stuart Mill would probably want me to ____________________,
because _[explain one or more of the primary principles of Utilitarianism and how he
would apply it to the train scenario to decide what I should do].
As he says, “[pick a quote from your text that illustrates that specific principle]” (cite it
too) and explain what the quote means in your own words,
His reasoning here plants him firmly within the Moral Framework called “The
____________,” where morality is judged by looking at
[Hint: the first blank should be either “good” or “right” and the second blank ought to be
“consequences of our actions” or “what we have a duty to do.”]
Note: Mill largely agrees with Bentham and its probably the case that the higher v lower
pleasures distinction is not relevant to this essay.
Body Part II:
On the other hand, Kant reasons from framework called “The ___________,” where
morality is measured by considering _________________
[Hint: the first blank above should be either “good” or “right” and the second blank
ought to be “consequences of our actions” or “what we have a duty to do.”]
Thus, he would most likely tell me to ___________________
For one thing, Kant’s moral theory requires us to follow the Categorical
Imperative: [pick one of the formulations of the CI and offer Kant’s statement of it]” .
(cite it too). (I’m asking for the principle of ends or the principle of universal law).
What Kant means here is ______________________
So, you can see that he is primarily concerned about _________________________ and
he would probably conclude that I should ________________.
Body Part III:
Personally, I think I should _______________________
Even though I might share some of the values underlying _________’s position, like
I nevertheless would decide to _________________________________
because __________________________________.
My reasoning here seems to fall under the framework called “The __________” (or
neither) because I am primarily focused on _________________________________
Briefly summarizes your paper and reminds the reader of your thesis and how your argued for
The following content is partner provided
PHIL 2306 Introduction to Ethics
Please Silence Your Phones
Assessing Ethical Theories
The Origin of Moral Claims
? How do people form their beliefs about moral right and wrong?
? From our parents
? From religious teachings
? Conscience
? Peers
? Ethics course!
? What makes something right or wrong?
? Ethical theories address this in two ways:
? Simplify morality to a few foundations as completely as
? Foundations should explain good and bad, right and wrong
Criteria of Adequacy
? Completeness – Does the theory support an entire range of
moral claims.
? Example: hedonistic theories may not adequately explain
? Explanatory Power – does the theory provide a satisfying
unifying explanatory basis for the moral realm
? Example: hedonistic theories do this: in terms of promoting
? Example: computer program that tells us what is right or
wrong with perfect accuracy
? would satisfy completeness but lack explanatory power.
Criteria of Adequacy
? Practicability – how useful is the theory in practice?
? Generates clear and precise moral claims, is not vague
? Furnishes substantial moral guidance that takes into
account human limitations
? Doesn’t yield irresolvable conflicts
? (None of the above has anything to do with an account
actually being correct.
? Moral Confirmation – are there good reasons for
thinking the theory gives correct answers?
? How do we determine this?
Moral Confirmation
? Start with our strong intuitions about what is right for at
least parts of morality.
? Resembles confirming scientific theories
? Science tested by experiments and observations
? ethical theories tested by thought experiments and our
strongest moral intuitions
? If only some fail at only certain points, don’t reject
? Make Adjustments and additions
? Test revised theory
? Ongoing give-and-take process
• Jeremy Bentham
• 1748-1842
• The Principles of Morals and
Legislation. (1789).
• John Stuart Mill
• 1806-1873
• Utilitarianism. (1863)
Courage of his convictions
Based on his Utilitarian moral theory, Bentham was early defender (in 1789!) of:
• Economic liberalization
• Freedom of expression
• Separation of church and state
• women’s rights
• animal rights
• the right to divorce
• the abolition of slavery
• the abolition of capital punishment
• the abolition of corporal punishment
• prison reform
• decriminalization of homosexual acts.
John Stuart Mill promoted social reform, individualism, and
women’s rights
Ed Flouren’s Pharmaceutical Company
? Ed announces a new drug, produced by his company, that effectively controls seizures.
? Reviewing the data, Ed discovers that rate of severe side effects including stomach
bleeding and perforations has been misreported due to a decimal error. He thought it
was 0.07%, but it was actually 0.7%; a ten-fold mistake.
? Should he call for an immediate halt for his company on going trial with 2,800 patients?
? If the trials are halted the rosy prospects for Ed’s company will collapse for at least
the near future.
? Those presently taking the drug will lose the benefit.
? Continued trials would produce important additional information, possibly leading
to safer and more effective drugs in the future.
? Continued trials would help Ed’s company.
? Continued trials would benefit most people currently taking the drug, but a few
might suffer the more serious side effects.
The components of hedonistic utilitarianism
Part 1: A theory about the structure of morality
? Consequentialism: all that morally matters is the
consequences of action
The components of hedonistic utilitarianism
Part 2: A theory about the object of morality
The highest good
is pleasure
Classical (hedonistic) utilitarianism
consequentialism +
the highest good is pleasure =
hedonistic utilitarianism
The Greatest Happiness Principle
Actions are right in
proportion as they tend to
promote happiness, wrong as
they tend to produce the
reverse of happiness.
Utilitarian Principles
? If an action X has better consequences than any other action you
could perform instead, then your duty (moral obligation) is to do
? If an action X has better consequences than any other action you
could perform instead, then you are morally forbidden from doing
any action other than X. Doing something else is the wrong thing
to do.
? If actions X and Y have better consequences than any other action
you could perform instead, and X does not have better
consequences than Y, but Y does not have better consequences
than X either, you are obligated to perform one of the actions, but
it is morally permissible for you to pick either one.
Do you only need to consider consequences for yourself?
? NO! That would turn utilitarianism into egoism
? You need to consider the consequences for everyone
affected by your action
What about motives and intent?
? Not relevant to whether an action is right or wrong
? Motives and intent determine praiseworthiness and
What if all the choices are bad ones?
? Then choose the lesser evil. That will yield a higher
amount of happiness in the world than any other
Jeremy Bentham, the
father of modern
stuffed and on
display at University
College London
How can we measure pleasures and pains?
Bentham’s The Felicific Calculus
Certainty or uncertainty
Propinquity or remoteness
How can we measure pleasures and pains?
Burnor & Raley’s Felicific Calculus
Scope – Which individuals will be affected?
How many?
Duration – How long will the effect last?
Intensity – Experiences can differ in their
degree and strength or force.
Probability – Calculate expected value
Expected Value
? When you have an action that could produce two or
more different outcomes and you know (or can
roughly estimate) the probability of each outcome
occurring, you can calculate the expected value as the
weighted average of the value of each outcome.
Expected Value
? Example: Suppose you are thinking about buying a raffle ticket
for $5. Each ticket has a 1 in 100 (0.o1) probability of winning a
$50 gift card to your favorite restaurant.
? The value of winning is $45 ($50 card – $5 for the ticket)
? The value of losing is -$5 (the price of the ticket).
? The probability of winning is 1 in 100 or 0.01
? The probability of losing is 99 in 100 or 0.99
? EV= ($45 * 0.01) + (-$5 * 0.99)
? EV= $0.45 – $4.95
? EV= -$4.50
Expected Value
? -$4.50 is the amount you should expect to lose on
average if you participated in the raffle many, many
? The EV of not buying the ticket is $0 on average.
? This is the better option if you’re only concerned
with money.
Expected Value in Moral Cases
? The idea of expected value is important
in moral cases where we might think of
something other than money as valuable.
? The philosopher Shelly Kagan was
interested in the claim that when it
comes to big social issues, a single
individual’s actions don’t matter morally
because that person “can’t make a
? Kagan constructed an argument against
buying chickens to eat using an expected
value calculation.
Expected Chickens
1. If I buy a (dead, prepackaged) chicken at the grocery store, there is a probability of 0.04 (1
in 25) that my purchase will prompt the store to order another case of 25 chickens from their
supplier, who will raise and slaughter 25 more chickens as a result; and a probability of 0.96
(24 in 25) that my purchase will not prompt the store to order more chickens.
2. Thus, the “expected number of chickens” to be raised and slaughtered because of my buying
a chicken is 1.
3. The suffering that a single chicken endures in being raised on an industrial chicken farm
and slaughtered in an industrial slaughterhouse outweighs the pleasure you get from eating
that chicken.
4. Thus, the state of affairs in which you buy a chicken from the grocery store is worse than the
state of affairs in which you buy a vegetarian alternative.
5. Thus, it is morally forbidden for you to buy a chicken from the grocery store.
Quality and Quantity
Jeremy Bentham: we need to
maximize the quantity of pleasure in
the world.
John Stuart Mill: we need to be
concerned with the quality of pleasures
Bentham: All Pleasures are the Same
“The uXlity of all these arts and sciences, …the value
which they possess, is exactly in proporXon to the
pleasure they yield. Every other species of preeminence
which may be aZempted to be established among them
is altogether fanciful. Prejudice apart, the game of pushpin is of equal value with the arts and sciences of music
and poetry. If the game of push-pin furnish more
pleasure, it is more valuable than either.” (Bentham)
How is the promotion of higher quality pleasures consistent with
the general utilitarian goal of maximizing quantity?
? One answer is that in the case of a tie in quantity, we
should prefer pleasures of higher quality. Our moral
duty is to maximize quantity, but in case of a tie
between two actions, perform the one that yields
pleasures of a higher quality.
How can we determine which pleasures are of higher quality?
? Mill: take a poll. For every two pleasures, we poll all
those who have sampled both and see which one they
prefer, irrespective of quantity or feeling of obligation
to prefer it. That is the pleasure with the highest
? Objection: Won’t a poll show that people actually
prefer lower quality pleasures?
You have two choices for Saturday night. Which do you pick?
Your first choice: cheap beer and watching the Redneck Games on TV.
Your second choice: reading philosophy
Two responses from Mill
? Competent Judges: few have really tried to read
philosophy, but many have drunk cheap beer and
watched trashy TV. We need to poll the truly
competent judges.
? Weakness of the Will: even competent judges can
succumb to easy temptations of lower pleasures,
while still recognizing the the higher quality ones.
What is the quality of pleasure?
? A theory of quality: quality is the density of pleasure
per unit of delivery.
Which would you prefer?
? A fishing trip where you only catch one big lunker
and nothing else, or a fishing trip where you catch a
big string of small fish.
? Buying one case of really good beer, or for the same
money buying two cases of cheap beer that tastes half
as good.
A Month of Drinking
front columns = Jane Pivo
rear columns = Joe Sixpack
Units of
Days of drinking
Should we pursue the higher quality pleasures?
? Mill thinks we should live our lives like Jane Pivo:
become knowledgeable about various pleasures,
pursuing and promoting them.
? What about when higher quality pleasures are in
short supply or expensive or difficult to obtain?
Objection 1: Practicality
? Objection: Utilitarianism is too impractical because
there is no way we predict all of the outcomes of our
actions to the end of time, as the theory requires.
? Possible utilitarian response: no one said that
morality was easy. All we can do is the best we can,
and we can be praiseworthy for the effort.
Objection 2: invasiveness
? Objection: Every aspect of your life now has moral
weight—what you have for breakfast, what side of the
bed you get up on, when you should take out the
? Possible utilitarian response: every action has moral
properties like every object has mass. The moral
weight of breakfast is like a feather; not something to
worry about.
Objection 3: supererogation
? Definition of supererogation: a good action that is
greater than what duty requires.
? Objection: there are no supererogatory acts for
utilitarians. You are always obligated to do your best.
Example: Pvt. Ross
McGinnis, who threw
himself on an Iraqi grenade
to save his comrades, was no
moral hero. He simply did
his duty.
Objection 4: Simpson’s Paradox
? Definition of Simpson’s Paradox: when a set can be
partitioned into subsets that each have a property
opposite to that of the superset.
Example: In the 2009 Wimbledon finals, Roger Federer beat Andy
Roddick by a score of 5–7, 7–6 (8–6), 7–6 (7–5), 3–6, 16–14. Even
though Roddick won most of the games (39 versus Federer’s 38), he
still lost the match.
Why is Simpson’s Paradox a problem for utilitarianism?
Imagine a desert island of scarce resources.
Which scenario should we bring about?
Objection 5: Agent-relative intuitions
Do you have special obligations to your friends and family?
Objection 6: Nothing is absolutely wrong
Under utilitarianism there is no action so terrible that
it should never be performed under any conditions.
The organ robber
Trolley Problems
Trolley Problems
Trolley Problems
PHIL 2306 Introduction to Ethics
Instructor: J. Christopher Jenson
Please Silence Your Phones
Rule utilitarianism applies the principle of utility to
rules, not individual acts:
Principle of rules:
The morally right rule is the one that promotes the
greatest overall utility (happiness, pleasure)
(still uses scope, duration, intensity, probability)
Principle of acts:
The morally right act is one that follows a rule that
promotes utility
Similiarities with Act
Provides an objective base for morality. Makes
morality an empirical science.
Act & Rule Utilitarianism are impartial. They treat all
individuals equally.
Extends the circle of moral concern to animals (for
better or worse).
How is this different from act
Utilitarian rules apply to everyone.
We don’t have to calculate the consequences of each
action, only the rule (once)
Can support practices and social institutions (e.g.,
promise-making) that act utilitarianism cannot.
Can require an act that doesn’t promote overall utility
in that situation.
How is this different from act utilitarianism?
Right rules are determined by calculating the utility
produced by all applications of the rule. This helps
solve the calculation problem.
Some rules that force us to act certain ways
promote disutility in the longer run, this helps solve
the problem with moral saints (supererogation) and
agent relative intuitions.
Rules that permit moral wrongs or injustices may
backfire, so they are not as likely to create utility in
the long term. This helps solve problems with
rights/justice. (solves organ harvesting).
Lawyer client privilege as a rule: causes disutility only in a
few cases, so it’s a good rule
Forced organ donation as a rule: not a good rule in the
long run
Rule that you must give up 40% of your income for charity.
Would this sap the incentive to work hard and produce
1. Dilemmas: rules can come into conflict with one another.
e.g. telling the truth v protect the lives of innocents
Dilemma principle: When circumstances place two or more
moral rules in conflict, the morally right act is that which
will produce the greatest overall utility.
2. Inconsistency: act utilitarians will object that rule
utilitariani …
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