John Stuart Mill And Bernard Williams Essay

John Stuart Mill And Bernard Williams Essay

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Utilitarianism is a difficult topic to fathom, for it requires a large amount of questions and self-evaluation. In order to understand utilitarianism, think of bad versus bad. A principle stating that when one is faced with two difficult decisions, which choice would be less harmful for all of those involved? John Stuart Mill and Bernard Williams describe utilitarianism as pain versus pleasure or the lesser of two evils approach, and how that approach ties into ones ultimate choice. Utilitarianism is not about the pursuit of happiness, rather, it is really about picking which evil is the best evil.
Immanuel Kant provides us with a different outlook on moral problems. Kant describes human beings as having desires and appetites who are rationale and capable of knowing right from wrong. When faced with a dilemma one must weight the balance between right and wrong through universal law. If a solution to the dilemma were not capable of being applied to all using the same rationale this would go against universal law and therefore be a wrong solution morally.
Next we review the dilemma of a single mother with four children. In order to support her children she is receiving welfare and having difficulty making ends meet. This mother receives a proposition from a childless farmer that has offered to adopt her twelve-year-old son for companionship and help with the work on the farm. The farmer will pay the mother $50,000 if she permits the adoption. In this scenario the mother and her other three children will benefit because the money will allow her to get off welfare, go back to school, and learn a profession so she can be self-supporting, and the twelve-year-old boy will benefit because his lifestyle will improve substantially and ...


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...e would this work expectation be in balance to other needs of the boy, including and not limited to school, extra curricular activates etc. Would continued contact be allowed or would they be severed forever? Would the mother be allowed to see the boy? How is the importance of family weighed? What is the importance of a mother?
When placing myself in the scenario of this mother, I believe I would find myself agreeing with the viewpoint of Kant, and that if the law is to be morally valued as a ground of obligation it must carry with it absolute necessity. As difficult as it would be to pass up the opportunity to better your child’s life, I find that it is equally if not more important for family to stick together, even when times are tough. Especially when there are so many questions without complete thorough answers regarding your children’s life and well-being.

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