What is the best moral theory for a government to follow?
Pro: I will argue in favor of Utilitarianism as the best way to determine morality in policies.
Con: You may choose whatever moral theory you would like to defend.
Rules are standard, first round acceptance, no plagiarism, etc.
First Round: Acceptance and stating which moral theory you are defending
Second Round: Your case
Third Round: Rebuttals
Fourth Round: More rebuttals and voter issues
In normative ethics, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill dictates that an action is right if it tends to promote happiness and wrong if it tends to produce the reverse of happiness—not just the happiness of the performer of the action but also that of everyone affected by it. Such a theory is in opposition to egoism, the view that a person should pursue his own self-interest, even at the expense of others, and to any ethical theory that regards some acts or types of acts as right or wrong independently of their consequences. Utilitarianism also differs from ethical theories that make the rightness or wrongness of an act dependent upon the motive of the agent; for, according to the Utilitarian, it is possible for the right thing to be done from a bad motive.
Governments use Utilitarianism as a fundamental tool in determining a policies morality and to helping the majority of citizens. Util has arguably been the most influential throughout history.
Ayn Rand, in novels such as Atlas Shrugged and collections of essays such as The Virtue of Selfishness, was able to put forth one of the only ethical systems that takes into account the nature of man. She argued that any value has to have a valuer, and that all values are desired because they lead to an “ultimate value”. This ultimate value is that which the other values are impossible without, and, as such, must be considered a value before anything else can be. Since values require a valuer, the “ultimate value” is that valuer’s ability to value (i.e. his life as a valuer). Therefore, only those things that support the “ultimate value” of life can be moral, as, without that value being supported, no other values could be established, and no other moral theory could be put forth.
After identifying that those things which support and further life are the good, we now must find what those things are. Since all things have a nature, and moral systems are systems concerning the conduct of man, it is the nature of man which is under question. Rand uses the traditional Aristotelian definition, claiming that man is the “rational animal”, and that man’s distinguishing characteristic is his dependence on reason. If man cannot live without reason, then it is necessarily virtuous to be rational.
From the identification of life as the value to which all others are means and rationality as a virtue, the rights of man can be established, and, from those, the proper role of Government. Man can act rationally only if given self-ownership (the right to life and liberty), as a slaver necessarily imposes the thoughts and conclusions of himself on the slave. One cannot sustain his right to self-ownership if he does not have a right to translate his thoughts into action (the right to property), as grain still needs to be grown, shelter built, etc., for the man to stay alive. If any of these rights are violated, the violator is attacking morality itself – he is attacking the basis of any moral theory, the life of man qua man.
If, then, rights violations can never be justified, a government can only work when it is not exempt from recognizing these rights. Any government that ignores them is morally abhorrent. Systems such as Communism or Fascism can never be just, as they act to destroy that which gives the word “just” any meaning. If there are certain bounds that the government should, morally, stay in, then theories such as Utilitarianism cannot be rightfully applied to politics. A government should, instead, act only to prohibit the violations of rights - anything else is self-defeating.
TheNamesFizzy forfeited this round.
TheNamesFizzy forfeited this round.
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