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Justification Of Death Through Utilitarian And Aristotelian Means

1041 words - 5 pages

Justification of Death through Utilitarian and Aristotelian Means
Alexandra Guinan
PHI 1103: Critical Thinking
14 April 2014

Justification of Death through Utilitarian and Aristotelian Means
The justification of death in a Utilitarian or Aristotelian scenario rely on omissions from the norm or however seems fit the individual. the gray space between the rules of either theory allows for interpretations (misguided or educated guesses) and keeping facts only between the parties involved. Although Utilitarianism is a way to control the masses and allow for best possible performance out of the people following it, Aristotle’s Virtue Theory allows for the emotional understanding of a situation, as well as an individualized decision per scenario, without disrupting the norm.
Utilitarianism cares more for the whole of society than the individuals that make it. This theory breeds the idea that death can be helpful for the whole. It could be in the forms of executions, murder, suicide, assisted suicide, etc. Peter Singer quotes in his article “Decisions about Death” John Stuart Mill’s bridge example: if you see someone crossing an unsafe bridge, you may stop them and warn them. If they continue anyway, you must step aside and let them cross.” The idea that people have free will, and use it to make decisions about themselves in their own best interest can go on to create a slippery-slope mentality - Because we executed one murderer, we can execute every murderer, no matter their reasoning!
Singer’s article focuses on classic hedonistic utilitarianism, and questions why patients are not given the option for assisted suicide in some states and countries. His question is a double edged sword for the philosophy; ending the ability to let an individual think freely is irrational, yet taking away someone’s autonomy is just as bad.
The struggle of doing what one ought to do, while strengthening the utility of the action, with respect to the law and strengthening the law’s utility comes with a price. The balance between law (“rule”) and actions (“act”) means one’s actions will sway more towards act-utility or rule-utility depending on which one gives more utility overall. The flaw of utilitarianism is now present: are people able to trust the utilitarianism theory when its justifications for actions is only because the action brought greater utility? In the cases of murder and suicide, a dead end is reached. Utilitarianism seems to only work at its best when in a situation of possession or labor.
The Aristotelian theory seems to base itself less off how the masses are doing things, and more off each individual’s case. “The basis of Aristotle’s theory of justice is that justice requires restoration of the fair balance of goods when an individual wrongfully takes what belongs to another. The practice of following societal laws is one of the most prevalent aspects of Aristotelian justice.” So in the case of medical malpractice, or unwanted assisted suicide,...

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