The importance of human life, is really relative to the person is evaluating it. It differs from person to person. To me, I value life dearly, because everything which has happened to me is pleasant so far. But to some other people, it may not have been such an enjoyable experience. And in some cases, people change their view of human life, as incidents happen which affects the way they evaluate the importance of their lives. Such as people who experienced near-death, or people who attained freedom after long periods of hardship and torture. These people would definitely view their lives, and those who went through the same experiences, in a different light.
If we were to analyze Utilitarianism closely, we would realize that they do not put any values on human life. In the Utilitarian point of view, every human life is worth the same. No matter what the status of the entity. Even if he were a president, or a teacher, or a janitor, or a beggar, everyone would be considered as one “unit'; of human being. What Utilitarianism is all about, is consequences. How an action results in a consequence. If the consequence of an action is something good, then we gain positive utility, and negative utility otherwise. Therefore, Utilitarians justify their actions by calculating the utility they derive from the consequences of their action.
Even in Utilitarianism, we could categorize them into mainly two parts. Benthams just emphasizes on treating the utility gained or lost as a unit by itself. Whereas Mills insists that even when judging an action only by the reviewing the consequences, we have to consider the magnitude of utility gained or lost by doing the action. Which is somewhat closer to the real life scenario. Therefore, there are many ways to look at whether or not to carry out an action, using the Utilitarian view.
Here, we analyze a scenario where the US embassy has been attacked by terrorists. Several people have been held hostages by the terrorists. They will be released if the US government will pay a certain amount of money. We can look at this situation in several ways. If we give the terrorists the money, and the hostages are set free, there would definitely be immediate positive utilities coming from the hostages themselves and the terrorists. People who are witnessing the situation would also get a positive utility, since they would be relieved that no one was hurt, and everything is back to it’s peaceful self again. The probable negative utility would come from the government, where they lost some amount of money. If we were to consider all of these together, we would ultimately figure out that the positive utility derived from the action is overwhelming. Therefore, it might be better to give the terrorists the money. But if we were to think deeper into the consequences, we might have thought of the long term effect that it might have on the government, the terrorists, and the community. If the government kept paying a...