February 5, 2013

What is the most Convincing Ethical System and Why


There are about five or more ethical systems, which have been developed to explain ethics and morality. One of these ethical systems is ethical relativism, which states that there are no principles, which are valid universally (Lasley & Pickett, 1992). According to this theory, all principles are valid according to cultural beliefs and practices. The other ethical theory is the divine command theory, which argues that God should decide moral standards because He is all knowing. Deontology is another ethical system, which lay emphasis on kind acts, self-rule, and justice. As Lasley and Pickett (1992) explain, virtue ethics is another ethical theory, which believes that morals are internal, and focuses on producing people who act ethically out of natural goodness. Another widely accepted ethical system is known as utilitarianism. According to Shaw (1999), utilitarianism is an ethical theory, which believes that actions should be judged ether right or wrong depending on their consequences. This theory argues that good actions are the ones, which produce greatest happiness for as many people as possible. Despite that utilitarianism as an ethical theory has faced some criticism from philosophers, it is the most convincing ethical system among all the ethical systems.

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According to Bredeson (2011), utilitarianism ethical system dates back to seventeenth century and is attributed to an ancient philosopher by the name Thomas Hobbes. The theory was reviewed in eighteenth century by Bentham and later by Stuart Mill, who is recognized as the father of utilitarianism. Research shows that after the review made by Mill, utilitarianism became part of modern reasoning, and many view it as a viable alternative to Christianity. Utilitarianism is the most convincing ethical system because it judges an act as either right or wrong depending on the outcomes. This implies that the theory enables one to consider the consequences before choosing an action or policy over the other available options. By considering the consequences of one’s actions, utilitarianism enables a person to take into account other people’s interests and not only his or her personal interests. As an ethical system, this is highly convincing. Ethics entails doing what is good not only to suit our own interests but also to the interests of other people. It is therefore clear that this ethical system focuses on creating a happier life for as many people as possible in the society and this is the factor that makes it highly convincing.

Another factor that makes utilitarianism the most convincing ethical system is its rationality and practicability (Gay, 2002). The ethics of utilitarianism are based on the balanced computation of the number of people whose happiness is maximized by the consequences of the actions taken. This is clear and simple. According to Gay (2002), by applying utility as the fundamental standard of judging right or wrong, utilitarianism avoid contaminating the moral theory with prejudices, feelings, and irrational perceptions. The important factor that makes this ethical system highly convincing is that the principle of rational computation is practical. Utilitarianism as an ethical system yields results that are in line with common sense and hence makes it a highly credible theory. Since the theory focuses on maximizing happiness and minimizing pain for as many people as possible, it can be concluded that its main aspiration is to do good to the majority of the people (Miller, 2003). From common sense, an ethical system that lay focuses on benefiting people is the most convincing and appealing. It is important to note that that utilitarianism does not require any acceptance or believe of any past cultural or religious beliefs in order to convince a person what ethics or morality is all about. For a theory like divine command theory, one has to accept that God is all knowing and hence should be the one to set moral standards. This is not the case with utilitarianism. The moral discussions presented by this ethical system are convincing across all religions and cultures.

According to Shaw (1999), utilitarianism is an ethical theory that ensures democracy. Take for instance the health care system. Care is provided to as many people as possible in order to minimize their pain and maximize their happiness. This means that because health care has to be delivered to a bigger population, it has to be improved in order to reach even the minority in the society. Improved health care leads to a happier and healthier population meaning democracy in health care system is achieved. Utilitarianism as an ethical theory is therefore convincing not because it takes into account the welfare of the majority in the population, but also ensures democracy is practiced in order to have a happier population. Utilitarianism as a theory is not complex because it relates to actions that are practical in every day life. According to this theory, charity or giving to people especially the less disadvantaged promotes their happiness and hence is judged to be good. On the other hand, cruelty as an act inflicts pain on people and hence is judged to be bad. These acts are observed in our daily lives and are agreed upon almost universally to be either good or bad. This shows that utilitarianism as a theory is highly convincing because it uses real life situations to show its practicability.<…>

Despite how convincing this theory is, it has faced much criticism from various philosophers. It is clear that utilitarianism uses consequentialism to judge action ether right or wrong. According to Harwood (1996), it is not possible to judge the consequences of every action and this negatively affects its credibility. Another factor that makes this theory incredible is the fact that morality is determined by results. Many philosophers have argued that even wrong motives can produce good results. It is therefore argued that futilitarians should not use results only to determine morality. A philosopher like Bernard Williams argues that people should strive to hold their inte4grity which is a fundamental ethical principle even if their actions lead to undesirable consequences. According to Frazier (1994), utilitarianism does not consider the rights of all individuals by attempting to maximize happiness for the greatest number of people and hence it is not credible. This is because the majorities are always advantaged at the expense of the minority. Any ethical system should ensure that the rights of all people are protected. Utilitarianism is also argued to advocate for injustice and this further damages its credibility. A good example is where an innocent man is framed for rape in order to calm down a rioting crowd. It is also argued that there is no credible method of measuring one’s pleasure against another.

There is enough evidence that utilitarianism as an ethical system is highly convincing. The theory judges actions either good or bad by their consequences. The ethical system ensures that people judge the consequences of their actions either god or bad hence learn to involve in acts that results to greatest happiness of the greatest number of people. Utilitarianism is highly convincing since it enables an individual to become a better person by placing the interests of other people before personal interests. The credibility of this ethical system is echoed by the fact that it advocates for democracy and equality. However, utilitarianism has faced much criticism and it is argued that it not possible to judge the consequences of every action we take. It is also argued that the ethical system can in some instance advocate for injustice which is highly unethical. Despite all these critics, there are strong and clear factors which make utilitarianism remain to be the most credible ethical system.

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