“Happiness has an intrinsic value in and of itself”, or in other words not dependent on anything else to define its worth (Wetzell PP). Life on the other hand gets tricky. In the context of war, the human life’s value is based on the ability to contribute to the war, whether fighting and carrying out orders as a soldier or collaborating to make strategic plans to reach victory as a general. It is interesting to think that the human life “could have intrinsic value caring about whether or not it is useful to others”(Gray). So to bring it back into to the utilitarian perspective, human life in war is only valuable as a means to happiness. And also the purpose of war according to the hedonistic utilitarian is to maximize “pleasure, satisfaction and lack of pain” (Wetzell PP/Mills 247).
General Marshall’s decision to save Ryan was the morally right decision despite the following objections and deaths of the soldiers who were assigned to transport private Ryan. Based on Utilitarianism, since General Marshall is an agent within an agent, a general in the US army, he is a private utility where “the happiness of some few persons is all he has to attend to” (Wetzell PP/ Mills 249). To be deemed as a private utility one has to be operating under/within a greater agent. Mills proclaims in the Greatest Happiness Principle:
“actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure. (Mills 243)
General Marshall sends soldiers to save private Ryan for the sake of Ryan’s mother’s happiness, or to prevent further unhappiness and pain after losing three of her sons. Within those of whom General Marshall has to attend to as a private utility, Private Ryan’s mother’s happiness is now harder to obtain since three means that has promoted her happiness are eliminated simultaneously. General Marshall values the happiness of Private Ryan’s mother over the desirable pleasure of the eight soldiers he has to attend to because of his preference in preserving/rebuilding the happiness of a grieving mother who has had her promoters of happiness taken away from her in such a great magnitude.
Mills proclaims that personal preference is how one would distinguish between two decisions of desirable pleasure (Mills 244). On the contrary since Mills addresses the use of personal preference when deciding between desirable pleasures, it has to be assumed that the Utilitarian also uses preference to decide between undesirable displeasures such as: choosing between allowing a grieving mother to lose 4 sons simultaneously or allowing 8 different grieving mothers/spouses to lose their sons/husbands. Preference of undesirable pleasures is simply choosing to prevent the worse option available. Operating under the preference of undesirable displeasures of the Utilitarian, Mills would state...