Essay about What is Wrong with Slavery?: Utilitarian Thought

Essay about What is Wrong with Slavery?: Utilitarian Thought

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In Philosophical Ethics, Utilitarianism is the doctrine that our actions are right if the outcome of our actions generate the greatest happiness amongst the majority. However, in “What is Wrong with Slavery?” some objectors of utilitarianism have tried to dismiss this moral reasoning as to having any importance by blaming the awful actions of slave traders and slave owners on utilitarianism. They attack this doctrine by saying that utilitarianism is a belief system that can either praise or condemn slavery, and utilitarianism easily commend slavery if a majority of the people visualize a slave-owning society as the most beneficial and generate greatest happiness. In this matter, the slave owners and slave traders can say that slavery is the right action because it generates the greatest happiness amongst themselves, because they may be in the illusion that they represent the majority. In response to these anti-utilitarian’s, R.M. Hare defends Unitarianism through the rebuttal of the anti-utilitarian’s claims. Hare agrees that the nature of utilitarianism can either commend or condemn slavery, but a key factor that anti-utilitarians forget is that utilitarianism shows what is wrong with slavery through reasoning, instead of just bluntly saying slavery is wrong without any proof.
Throughout the paper, Hare reiterates the example of how sometimes people can claim that they face injustice by spouting out actions or events that they believe is an unjust to them, without providing any substantial evidence or reasons as to why these actions causes them injustice. He explains how this example construes as a bad argument with weak conclusions, providing unsubstantial ideas to society. Before Hare even goes into the rebuttal of the claim...


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...ve them this upper hand over another human being? Hare says even a good human will exploit the people who are under them just because they possess the power to do so. Not only that, but Hare and other utilitarians know for a fact that if both an animal and a slave are a man’s property, and both receive the same punishment, the damage is always much worst on a slave. This is because slaves have thoughts, feelings, and responsibility – he is the same species as his owner yet he cannot escape.
Hare says in order to show the wrongfulness of slavery, the world has to see slavery as what is actually is and he conveys this through examples of historical context. Hare’s defense of utilitarianism is that this doctrine is moral reasoning that can be used to show and prove what is wrong with slavery, instead of simply just showing dissent and spouting out cries of unjust.

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