Professor Jacob Adler
Honors Intro to Philosophy
9 April, 2015
Morality: A Pursuit of Personal Happiness or the Obligation to Do Good?
Morality, a topic imperative to the maintenance and preservation of humanity, has been relevant to the human species since the beginning of time. The progression of the human species can also be attributed to the implication of the moral code. Not necessarily morality as defined and enforced through the binding rules suggested through religion, or the specifics of morality that seem to vary between cultures, but simply the natural tendency of the human species to do what is good. What is it, though, that determines right from wrong, driving humans, for centuries, to do good? What is it, that when these morals have been broken, feeds the conscience that persistently eats away at the inner core of the human heart until it has been made right? A plethora of varying answers have been composed by philosophers answering just that including the works of J. J. C. Smart and Bernard Williams, later explored in the essay, however, because the answer greatly rides on one’s personal belief or opinion, a definite answer has yet to be established. Many, would agree, however, that the main objective behind morality is the promotion of happiness, not necessarily happiness within oneself, but rather the total happiness experienced.
Considered one of the “most powerful and persuasive approaches to normative ethics in the history of philosophy,” utilitarianism is defined as acting to ensure maximum utility. Utility, or essentially anything that produces happiness, includes pleasure, economic wealth, and overall well being. Assuming the thought mentioned previously stating that the root ...
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...rees with the utilitarianism’s answer, but also, whether or not one agrees with the utilitarian method a of analysing the question. He states that non-consequentialists, or those who reject utilitarianism, believe that actions are deemed “right” or “wrong” regardless of the consequences they produce. Williams recognizes that denial of this idea may lead some to utilitarianism – the idea that only consequences matter.
However, he argues that there may be some situations that are ‘unthinkable.’ Some scenarios could be considered outside the moral world, not a special problem in them. Non- consequentialists would argue there is no right answer, while utilitarianism has no such limitations – it is well suited to choose the lesser of two evils
Smart, J. J. C., and Bernard Williams. Utilitarianism; For and Against. Cambridge: U,
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