Is The Concept Of Rights A More Appropriate Instrument Than Utilitarianism In Determining Morality?

2194 words - 9 pages

In order to respond to whether the concepts of rights is more appropriate in determining morality than utilitarianism it is important to firstly define each of the concepts independent of one another before attempting to compare them. Although rights theory is perhaps the most widely applied theory in the Western world this does not necessarily mean that the evolution of these circumstances invalidates the usefulness of utilitarianism, in fact it may be the case that in the wake of acts such as September the 11th that a utility principle protecting the greater good against the feelings of a perhaps fundamentalist minority may well be more popular, providing of course the advocates of that theory are in the majority.Firstly, utilitarianism is simply defined as the ethical doctrine by which 'the right thing to do is that which brings about the greatest good for the greatest number'. Although the simplicity of the theory is not so easily applied in practice the above quote does capture the essence of the principle in its simplest terms. However, as the argument progresses I will look into the developments that have occurred within utility theory itself and with that see how those developments have affected the ability of the theory to determine what is moral action and also that, which is immoral.Secondly, there is Rights theory that concerns itself largely with a few key principles. These are namely the protection of minorities against the masses, sometimes regarded as protection against the tyranny of the majority yet also incorporates the prevention of acts by states, societies or even individuals to harm directly or indirectly the lives of others. Rights theory often shields itself under the banner of what is moral and just, and more often than not what is considered to be a civil liberty. However, the difficulty this presents is that the concept is judged not on the opinion of the masses but on the judgement of the governing few, whether that be judiciary, legislative, elected or not. It is because of the subjective nature of rights theory, and the differing ways these views can be applied, that there is perhaps more of a justifiable argument to support utility theory as a means by which morals can be determined. However, the fact that rights theory is perhaps more subjective than the removed and objective theory of utility does not necessarily mean that the conclusions reached by utility are any more justifiable than those reached by rights theory.After all, when one is dealing with determining moral correctness they are doing it with an intention to serve the emotional and largely subjective creatures that are human beings. With this fact in mind, I therefore believe that both principles have an equally justifiable though not equally valid claim that they may best serve to determine that which is moral.The conflict between the two theories over determining what is moral is perhaps best summed up by the contemporary debate that is presently...

Find Another Essay On Is the concept of rights a more appropriate instrument than utilitarianism in determining morality?

"Nothing can be more misleading than to apply such a concept to the discussion between Germans and Jews during the last 200 years." - Gershom Scholem. Analysis

2845 words - 11 pages “I deny that there has been such a German-Jewish dialogue in any genuine sense whatsoever, i.e. as a historical phenomenon. It takes two to have a dialogue, who listen to each other, who are prepared to perceive the other as what he is and represents and to respond to him. Nothing can be more misleading than to apply such a concept to the discussion between Germans and Jews during the last 200 years.”Gershom ScholemDiscuss this in

Victim's Rights: Why Do Laws Protect the Criminal More than the Victim?

2640 words - 11 pages . Felonies are serious crimes like murder or rape and are punishable by imprisonment for a year or more. The consequence for felonies such as murder and treason can be the death penalty. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes like petty theft or speeding and are punishable by less than a year in prison. Fines are also punishments of both misdemeanors and felonies. The fine’s amount is determined by the seriousness of the case. However, no act

Explain why indentured servants and other poor whites were given more rights than slaves or free blacks during the early 1800's

1046 words - 4 pages were theoretically available to poor whites because they were denied to the blacks, in truth it is only that white plantation owners were trying to prevent an outbreak of riots.Originally, white indentured labor was the easiest to come by. Tobacco growers desperately needed more labor and searched for a source. Though African slaves were available, they were too expensive. Fortunately, England could provide thousands of out-of-work farmers who

Utilitarianism: Are Basic Rights Important? Utilitarianism is based on the

1042 words - 4 pages decides they want to torture and kill a dog. This dog is a non-reasoning individual and my friend would get more pleasure out of torturing and killing this dog than the dog would have or give in its whole life. Does this make it right for my friend to torture and kill this dog? A good Utilitarian would say yes.?Bentham, indeed, thought that except in legal context, all talk of rights was nonsense? (Ryan, 16). This author knows as well that

Determining Whether there is a Presence of Anti-Semitism in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

1363 words - 5 pages that they receive. Her character is more a perpetrator of discrimination rather than a victim of it. If anything, Jessica's behaviour towards her father reinforces the anti-Semitism that is in the play. When Gratiano says that Jessica is a "gentle and no Jew" he says so because Jessica has behaved like a "good Christian" by stealing from the dissolute Shylock. Moreover, Jessica says: "When I was with him I have heard him

Is the European Union more than a regional state-system?

1928 words - 8 pages realism in more general International Relations theory. It focuses on the role of the state, and the power that national governments have in shaping EU policy. The core presumption of this state-centrism is that integration doesn't challenge the autonomy of nation-states. This makes the European Union merely a forum for cooperation between sovereign states, where its institutions have little or no power independent of the national governments. Thus

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman (lens - in literature an author might reveal more about what is bad in the human soul than what is good)

724 words - 3 pages Often times in literature an author might reveal more about what is bad in the human soul, than what is good about the human soul. This can often be a necessity in order for the specific message of a literary work to be conveyed in an accurate manner. One literary work, that could further exemplify this statement is a drama known as Death of a Salesman by Arthur miller. In this fine example of a classic American tradgedy, we get the opportunity

Knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organization of facts

1387 words - 6 pages The Authenticity of Factual Knowledge Intro The prescribed title ‘‘Knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organization of facts.’’ is implying that knowledge is the process by which we acquire knowledge on a given topic, here, on the areas of knowledges mathematics and history. To know the facts we organize them in an orderly fashion. This claim raises the knowledge issue: To what extent is the organization of facts in mathematics and

Justice is More than the Absence of Brutality

1654 words - 7 pages focused on race. Why, they plead, can't we be a color-blind society? How could that possibly happen unless we first embrace color-consciousness: the fact that people are still treated differently based on the color of their skin. Racism today is not always the same as racism in the past. Horrific incidents of overt racism still occur and hate groups still exist, but the racism of today is much more subtle than the past. As Martin Luther King, Jr

Consider the accuracy of Lear?s claim that he is ?a man / More sinned against than sinning?

1466 words - 6 pages sound way more true and honest than Goneril’, who tells her father that she loves him more than her eyesight, as much as she loves her life (1.1.54-61), or Regan’s, who goes even beyond the things that Goneril said. But because only his ears listen, Lear isn’t able to understand that what Cordelia says is worth a lot more than what his other daughters are telling him. This lack of judgement is fatal and costs Lear a lot in the end. If you try to take

“Knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organization of facts”. Discuss this statement in relation to two areas of knowledge.

901 words - 4 pages “Knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organization of facts”. Discuss this statement in relation to two areas of knowledge. Knowledge is considered as familiarity with some issue, which includes facts. According to the classical definition of knowledge, there are three criteria that a statement must satisfy in order to be considered as knowledge: it must be true, justified and believed. What is considered as fact? The word itself

Similar Essays

"More Sinned Against Than Sinning." Is This A More Appropriate Description Of Agamemnon Than Clytaemestra?

1020 words - 4 pages Clytaemestra's murder of Agamemnon can be seen as one of the main sins in the play. The Chorus of Argive Elders calls the act 'obscene' and since one of the functions of the Chorus is to direct the audience's sympathy and give voice to pious opinions this indicates Clytaemestra is more sinning than sinned against. However when she defends her acts after the murder to The Chorus she tells them it was she who was sinned against, as her husband

The Morality Play: More Than Just A Lesson Learned

1004 words - 4 pages in morality plays and have given them a bad name. He then suggests three examples of humor in just the beginning of the play - Everyman’s attempt to negotiate with death, Everyman’s conversations with Fellowship, then with Kindred and Cousin. “The playwrights main instrument of humor in these plays is irony, particularly dramatic irony (150),” Tanner explains. Tanner claims that this sets a alliance between the audience and the unaware

Is Restorative Justice More Appropriate In Dealing With Young Offenders Than Conventional Criminal Justice?

2674 words - 11 pages This essay aims to make clear the system of restorative justice and its aims towards youth offending, whilst arguing points for and against the current system and whether or not it is more appropriate in terms of dealing with youth offending. It will also define restorative justice as well as defining what is meant by conventional justice. Making clear how and why these two systems came to be a part of youth justice whilst concluding as to which

Teaching Morality More Important Than Sex Education In Public Schools

2322 words - 9 pages control over a virgin.  Virginity is not a matter of asserting power in order to manipulate.  It is a refusal to exploit or be exploited.  That is real, and responsible, power.  But there is more to it than mere escape.  There is an undeniable appeal in virginity, something that eludes the resentful feminist's contemptuous label of 'prude.'  (Hinlicky).      The strongest argument presented by the "contraception camp" is that teenagers are