John Stuart Mill's Case: Deontology Vs. Utilitarianism

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Deontology vs. Utilitarianism: Case #1 Case: You are at home one evening with your family, when all of a sudden, a man throws open the door. He’s holding a shotgun in his hands, and he points it directly at your family. It seems he hasn’t seen you yet. You quietly and carefully retrieve the pistol your father keeps in his room for home protection. Are you morally allowed to use the pistol to kill the home invader? This case is a very difficult one because it’s not just involving you but it is involving the people you love dearest. You are basically being given only two choices and that is to save your family or to watch them die. This essay will discuss the different take utilitarian’s have on the decision and the outlook deontologists have…show more content…
Mill defines utilitarianism as a theory based on the principle that "actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness."(Mill) Utilitarian’s choices and decisions are based on the results of having the maximum number of happiness to the minimal number of pain. For instance, with this case study, Utilitarianism would be pro for the shooting of the intruder. The reasoning behind this is if the intruder were to open fire on the family, there would be several casualties. Whereas if you were to shoot the intruder there would only be one casualty. This would maximize the happiness with having more lives saved, rather than the pain with more lives lost. With saving more lives you are going with the majority which is the amount of people being saved for the one life that is loss. Also Mill defines happiness as pleasure and the absence of pain. Meaning in this example that watching your family die would be extremely painful for yourself and the loved ones going through the tragedy. But saving your family would create happiness or “pleasure” because they are now safe and not in any type of danger. The pleasure of saving your family greatly outweighs the pain that would come from watching your family die. Having to mourn all the…show more content…
Everyone has duties to do things which are morally correct rather than to do things morally wrong or incorrect. Consequences are not the determinant whether an action is right or wrong but instead the action itself is the determinant whether it is right or wrong. Using the case as an example of this belief would be the fact that after shooting the intruder they are dead. No matter if they were intruding, the action itself was to grab the pistol and commit a violent act. Taking away any of the outside circumstances such as protecting your family, you still in fact murdered and killed someone. Kant’s theories recognize duties that are mostly prohibitions for example “do not lie, do not murder.” (Kant) By committing the murder in order to save your family you have now went against the deontologist rules that state do not murder. They believe in no intentional killings. Even if it does benefit the majority as a whole it is still not morally right in their theory. In Kant’s theory a killing is the action and the only exception to killing another being is if it was accidental or if you were defending yourself. Why this case is so tricky is because technically you were not defending yourself you were protecting your family because the intruder had no idea that you were in the house and also the killing is in no way accidental, because you intentionally grabbed the pistol to kill the intruder.

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