The utilitarian principle as traditionally expressed states that we should always act to produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. The act-utilitarianism theory states that the actions that a person does are morally right for as long as there are valid benefits at the end. This theory is very liberal and is a good one to use to justify a crime was done and to make it seems like it is morally correct. Technically speaking this theory sounds very practical and doable but it is always easily said than done. For this theory, the option with the best consequences is what is used. This could be because we are not able to comprehend what will happen in future and what possibly are the consequences of the acts. This act brings out the idea that the purpose of morality is to make life awesome by increasing happiness in the world while decreasing all sources of pain and depressions. The best thing about this theory is the fact that the happiness of every individual is put at stake even though it is so difficult for utilitarians to establish the average and total happiness. The major weakness of this theory is the fact that it is difficult to measure the happiness in a person because one persons maximum happiness weighs different from another persons. Then at times, the happiness is generalized for an individual group which may not project the exact thing.
My case study was the one of Danny the boy who was born with a bowel syndrome and did not feel like he deserved to live and hence attempted three suicides. At the age of 13 years his condition deteriorated, and he asked his parents to help him die. His parents did not know if it was ethically right to do so even though they had seen how much their son had suffered. All Danny wanted is to be given an injection that would prompt his death. According to the utilitarianism act theory what is considered when you want to establish wether its ethical to assist Danny to commit suicide or not is the utmost value of the consequences of the suicide act of the boy. Like for instance, Danny was already 13 years and he had suffered the pain of the bowel disease since birth. When you look at it well, its defiantly obvious that Dannys parents have been in and out of the hospital for treatment, and hence they must have spent so much money and if since it a condition he will live with they will have to continue spending on the last day. The family again obviously has suffered psychological and emotional pressure due to the same and again this is something they will continue to live with.
The major objection to this theory is the fact that it considers the happiness of others before your own happiness. More over the theory treats all people as equal weather they are members of the immediate family or not. In this case, of Danny, it could be that the decision was not okay with the immediate family but since most of the people around feel like it will bring happiness it could be still performed. Deaths are always sad. And as much as Dannys death could be a relief for him and also his parents because of the huge burden its not guaranteed that they will be happy after the death. They would still cry and mourn. In respect to that it is totally important to know that even though it is convenient for Danny to have euthanasia and the way we see it will solve the problem, it is not guaranteed that the family will be happy because of the death. The virtue ethics has a contrary idea of this whole issue and does not consider any consequences of the act taken. For this theory what is important is whether the person is expressing the good character or not. So the things in mind should be weather the character is admirable or not or either good or bad. Like for instance, it is easier to say the case of Danny the virtue theory could have a contrary opinion and state that he cannot go through euthanasia because due to his character trends. You could say that the fact Danny was suicidal makes him not viable for the euthanasia because he had tried suicide several times. The consequences of the euthanasia could be the best for everyone but according to this theory, it is the character that dictates if the action is likely to take place or not.
In conclusion, the act-utilitarianism theory could be applied in some cases mainly because it takes into consideration the happiness of the people involved so hence reducing the chances of hurting. This theory is a quite sober theory in sorting such crises mostly because it is centered on the production of happiness of the people involved. In the long run, however there may not be any happiness because it is likely to have a scenario of an unhappy fate in the quest for happiness.
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