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What Is Wrong With Slavery?: Utilitarian Thought

880 words - 4 pages

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 claims of the objectors, he first explains the definition of slavery as it is important to clearly define terms to avoid any misinterpretations or allow people to twist the words so that the terms can be in their favor. Hare says the two key components of slavery is that it is first, a status in society, and second, a relation to a master (Hare 497). In order to further back up his thesis, he defines the status of a slave in which are the four freedoms that a slave does not have – no legal position in community, no right to access the courts, no protection from unexplained arrests, and no privilege to go where he desires. There is a reason why Hare uses the ancient Greeks’ definition of the status of the slave is to show that he is not making these definitions up himself just to defend his claim. It is...

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