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Utilitarianism: Are Basic Rights Important? Utilitarianism Is Based On The

1042 words - 4 pages

Utilitarianism: Are Basic Rights Important? Utilitarianism is based on the greatest happiness principle: choose the act that in general will produce the most pleasure while, at the same time, avoiding the most pain. Some agree and some disagree with this principle but the biggest difficulty with this is that it does not leave room for other values and does not take our basic rights as human beings into account. In this paper I will try to make sense of a Utilitarian view of basic rights.Utilitarianism fails to take rights seriously because a Utilitarian focuses on the greatest happiness and nothing else. If I decide to kill someone because it gives me pleasure to do so, and that person didn?t have a family so no one would miss them, a Utilitarian say that in that case killing is ok because it promotes pleasure. What about that person?s right to life? How about if one of my friends 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 Utilitarianism does not take rights seriously. Suppose I tell a slanderous lie about you to an acquaintance of mine, who has never had and never will have any sort of interaction with you, and swear him to secrecy. This makes no difference whatever to your future happiness. I get complete joy out of this. Does that make it ok? I don?t think it does; I believe I am violating your rights as a human being.?The idea that we all have rights which others are obliged not to violate is, so to speak, a projection of our need to be secure against attack? (Ryan, 53). One would think that since we all need to feel secure and feeling secure makes us happy then Utilitarian's would generally promote our rights and our security but that seems to be the last thing on their minds. A good Utilitarian would say that we have the right to do whatever promotes the most happiness. So if a woman is raped, the rapist has a right to rape her because it he takes more pleasure out of it than the woman would if we said she had the right to not be raped? To me this does not make a lot of sense.Utilitarianism would support a taxi driver?s choice to racially profile perspective riders. In one day a single taxi drivers provides am important service for dozens of people. Further, driving is the taxi driver?s livelihood. From a Utilitarian perspective it is important that the driver be safeguarded. Therefore, as long as the practice of profiling helps to keep the driver on the road it is justifiable from a Utilitarian perspective. A Utilitarian does not consider the fact the a few people may be passed up as a result of racial profiling; it only considers the utility...

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