The Instigator
cody30228
Pro (for)
Winning
17 Points
The Contender
exorb
Con (against)
Losing
15 Points

Utilitarianism is inherently unjust

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/15/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,911 times Debate No: 10467
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (6)

 

cody30228

Pro

Good luck to who ever accepts this debate:

I am arguing that Utilitarianism is inherently unjust. The following definitions for this round are:
Utilitarianism: a form of consequentialism that claims the action that yields the most happiness to the most people is the ethical action.
Unjust: not giving people what they are due.

My argument is this:
1. People are due worth
2. Utilitarianism disregards human worth
3. Utilitarianism is unjust

1. People are due worth
Philosopher Immanuel Kant explains why humans have inherent worth in his book "The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals". Humans have the capacity of rational thought and free will. Both free will and rational thought are needed to adhere to moral laws. But why? A moral law must be universal (it's a law) and carry with it a sense of obligation (again, it's a law). Kant says the only way to determine if something is universal (or a moral law), ration thought must be used. In other words, rational thought is a prerequisite to establishing universality.
***Anyone who has taken high school level geometry knows that the three angles of a triangle equal 180 when added together. But how? If you had a triangle with the side lengths of 3, 4, and 5 and the angles of 30, 60, 90, you could add up the angles and get 180. But did you prove that all triangles have angles that equal 180? No, you only proved that a triangle with the sides 3, 4, 5 and angles 30, 60, 90 will have a sum of 180 for the angles. You would have to test every single possible scenario for triangle lengths and angles to prove, universally, the math theorem that we all accept as fact. This is impossible. The only way to prove that the angles of triangle will equal 180 is logic and rational thought. Therefore rational thought is a prerequisite to universality.***
Also, as humans, we have the mental free will to follow moral obligations. Kant argues that forcing someone to follow a duty lessens the worth of the law. If the law requires coercion to be followed, does it really have a sense of obligation with it? No. Therefore, moral laws require rational and free agents, and humans are needed for moral laws. From this, we can conclude that humans have paramount worth in regards to morals.

2. Utilitarianism disregards human worth
Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism, the belief that ends can justify the means. Kant argues that, since humanness has paramount worth, it should never be the means to achieve another end, since no end can have more value than humanness. Under utilitarianism, happiness to the most people is the ultimate end. There is no protection of, or value placed on, humanness. The worth of humanity is immediately taken away when not held as the ultimate end.

3. Utilitarianism is inherently unjust.
Justice involves giving people what they are due. As explained, humans are due paramount worth. Something is unjust if it does not provide worth to humanity. Utilitarianism does not provide paramount worth to humanity. Therefore, utilitarianism violates justice.

Thank you, and good luck!
exorb

Con

Be for one can argue against utilitarianism you would have to imagine a world with out this basic concept.
The result is a life with out law, order, unity and or civilized society.
In order to make laws for a civilized society one has to think in terms of utility, in that what is the greatest good for the greatest number. While utilitarianism may not reflect absolute and imperfect justice for all it is necessary to write general laws that are not open-ended to maintain a since of security and basic justice for a society.

1. People are due worth. Yes they are and that is good reason for writing basic laws.
2. Utilitarianism does not disregard human worth if a law is 'greatest good for the greatest number'.
basic example:
Thal Shall not Kill. Is a general law that values human worth and is good for a society of people.
While one may have a good reason to kill it is very hard to write laws that cover "ALL" circumstances.
Utilitarian rule can have morality.

3. Utilitarianism can be unjust by circumstance, and it can also create and uphold justice more often than not.

Everything is not black and white my friend.

your move.
Debate Round No. 1
cody30228

Pro

Thank you for accepting this debate.

Your main argument is that laws are based on utilitarianism and laws are needed for society. First, I would argue that laws are not always based on what yields the most benefit, but what is morally right. For example, it would benefit the majority of America if we made it legal to steal from the top 2% of America. 98% of Americans would benefit. However, we do not consider it a moral action, so it is illegal. Also, there is a distinction between justice (as in pertaining to law) and justice (as in giving each their due). The legal judicial system does not always give people what they are due. And third, judicial laws are constantly changing, so they cannot be used as a criterion for moral actions.

Now in response to your critiques of my arguments:
1. Basic laws are written to preserve safety, yes. But this does not mean that utilitarianism is the backbone of moral laws, or that utilitarianism is just.

2. A law for the greatest good disregards the small group. Slave laws followed Utilitarian logic. Even though a portion of the population was treated as less than human, the majority of the population benefited. Laws against murder are laws because of human worth, not because of utiliarianism. Another utilitarian action would be genocide of people without a job. It would mean less money spent on welfare and unemployment benefits. The government would have more money to give to the remaining 90% or so of Americans who have jobs.

3. Utilitarianism is always unjust (not giving people their due) because it holds that ends justify means. At its base, it accepts that a person's inherent worth can be sacrificed for the benefit of others. Whether the action is committed or not, the acceptance that human worth is not always the ultimate end denies people what they are due. Therefore, it is unjust.
exorb

Con

I'm going to post a quote here from a web page based on the words of James Mill.

"Mill discusses our motivations to abide by the utilitarian standard of morality. Man is not commonly motivated to specific acts such as to kill or steal, instead, we are motivated to promote general happiness. Mill argues that there are two classes of motivations for promoting general happiness. First, there are external motivations arising from our hope of pleasing and fear of displeasing God and other humans. More importantly, there is a motivation internal to the agent, which is the feeling of duty. For Mill, an this feeling of duty consists of an amalgamation of different feelings developed over time, such as sympathy, religious feelings, childhood recollections, and self-worth. The binding force of our sense of duty is the experience of pain or remorse when one acts against these feelings by not promoting general happiness. Mill argues that duty is subjective and develops with experience. However, man has an instinctive feeling of unity, which guides the development of duty toward general happiness. "

source: http://www.victorianweb.org...

Now instead of going with Mill's proof for the principle of utility, I'm going to show prof of this with resent scientific discovery. Scientific facts support this claim. For the most part moralists have not paid much attention to the findings of science. But the resent use of modern neuro-imaging of the human brain reveals that acting virtuous actually feels good. "Moral" Behavior sends reward-related brain systems into a pleasurable state even more so than the prospect of self-interested gain. The brain's activity in the process can be detected or illuminated using transcranial magnetic stimulation and MRI technologies. As humans struggle to resist doing what is learned to be bad and immoral that are inherent in self view, that regions of the brain fire 'squelch' to interfere with chemically reacted impulses.
This can support that the feeling of duty toward general happiness for all is internal for all of us.
source:
http://www.neuroquantology.com...
Debate Round No. 2
cody30228

Pro

cody30228 forfeited this round.
exorb

Con

exorb forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Nails 7 years ago
Nails
"I'm going to post a quote here from a web page based on the words of James Mill.

'Mill discusses our motivations to abide by the utilitarian standard of morality. Man is not commonly motivated to specific acts such as to kill or steal, instead, we are motivated to promote general happiness. Mill argues that there are two classes of motivations for promoting general happiness.'"

James Mill refers to himself in the third person?
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Vote Placed by Krazzy_Player 3 years ago
Krazzy_Player
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