Writing my business assignment
CONTENTS 02 What is Utilitarianism? 03 Motives & Character 04 Utility vs. Selfishness 05 The Types of Pleasure 01 Life & Legacy 06 The Trolley Problem 07 Utilitarian Business Ethics & Gustafson’s 5 Counter -Arguments 08 Case Study: Animal Welfare & the Food Industry 1806 -1873 British philosopher, ethicist, & political economist Member of British Parliament First MP to advocate for female suffrage (influenced by his partner, Harriet Taylor) Godfather to the 20th century philosopher Bertrand Russell Having learned ancient Greek at three, he read Plato’s dialogues & Herodotus’ histories by eight He took up the study of political economy, reading the works of Smith & Ricardo as a young teenager He experienced a mental breakdown by the age of 20 Education John Stuart Mill was educated by two great moral & economic philosophers: his father James Mill, & godfather Jeremy Bentham — the two founders of Utilitarianism . Mill’s period of depression may have contributed to his rethinking of Bentham’s quantitative utilitarianism . Mill subsequently developed what is now sometimes described as a qualitative form of utilitarianism . Mill’s form of hedonic calculus takes into account the qualitative distinction between different types of pleasure. Utilitarianism is a moral, economic, & political philosophy.
It is a type of consequentialism . It considers the consequences of actions when evaluating moral claims. Thus, the foundation of Mill’s moral philosophy is much different than Smith’s (which emphasizes sentiments, feelings, & motives ) & Aristotle’s (which emphasizes talents, character, & virtues ). The metric for Mill’s consequentialism is the principle of utility . An action is useful for Mill insofar as it promotes or contributes to maximizing happiness for the maximum number of people . The Greatest Happiness Principle: “The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness.” By ‘happiness’, Mill means something much different than Aristotle — who had defined eudaimonia as a life of virtuous activity . “By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure.” ‘Happiness’, for Mill, means nothing more than the maximization of pleasurable experiences , & minimization of painful ones . Although a consequentialist, Mill was not unconcerned with motive & the development of good character . Good intentions are required to motivate people to want to act in accordance with the GHP. It is doubtful that a “noble character is always the happier…[but] there can be no doubt that it makes other people happier…Utilitarianism, therefore, could only attain its end by the general cultivation of nobleness of character.” Like the virtue ethicists, Mill believes forming good habits is crucial to morality. This highlights the moral function of ‘education’: people must practice being good . “[E]ducation…[must] establish in the mind of every individual an indissoluble association between his own happiness and the good of the whole.” While good motives are likely lead to good results, we do not evaluate actions as good just because good people perform them. However, good intentions do say something about the virtuous character of the individuals performing those actions. “[M]otive has nothing to do with the morality of the action, though much with the worth of the agent…[N]o known ethical standard decides an action to be good or bad because it is done by a good or a bad man…These considerations are relevant, not to the estimation of actions, but of persons.” What Mill means by ‘utility’ is very different from what contemporary economic theory means by the term. Mill distinguishes “utility” from “selfishness” — which he regards as one of three vices & “principal cause[s] which makes life unsatisfactory.” “Utility is often summarily stigmatised as an immoral doctrine by giving it the name of Expediency…But the Expedient, in the sense in which it is opposed to the Right, generally means that which is expedient for the particular interest of the agent himself…The Expedient, in this sense, instead of being the same thing with the useful, is a branch of the hurtful.” Since Mill distinguishes utility from selfishness, it is clear that the basic “standard” for utilitarianism is “not the agent’s own greatest happiness.” “[He should] be unable to conceive the possibility of happiness to himself [alone]…[and have an] impulse to promote the general good…[as] one of the habitual motives of action.” Instead, Mill’s utilitarianism evaluates moral issues from the standpoint of the well -being of society & humanity as a whole. If utilitarianism is best achieved in a society where individuals connect their own happiness to the happiness of others, this once again highlights the moral role of education, good laws, social institutions & customs. Thus, “laws and social arrangements should place…the interest, of every individual, as nearly as possible in harmony with the interest of the whole.” Epicureanism was criticized for equating happiness & goodness with pleasure. Its critics regarded pleasure as an undignified & crude foundation for morality. However, Epicurus distinguished passive & dynamic pleasures. Mill’s Utilitarianism is informed by the writings of other pleasure -based philosophers, e.g., Bentham & Epicurus. Critics viewed Epicurus’ pleasure -based philosophy “as a doctrine worthy only of swine, to whom the followers of Epicurus were…contemptuously likened…When thus attacked, the Epicureans have always answered, that it is not they, but their accusers, who represent human nature in a degrading light; since the accusation supposes human beings to be capable of no pleasures except those of which swine are capable…The comparison of the Epicurean life to that of beasts is felt as degrading, precisely because a beast’s pleasures do not satisfy a human being’s conceptions of happiness.” Like Epicurus, Mill wants to establish a sharp distinction between the various types of pleasures afforded to human beings. He argues that Utilitarianism is not reducible to the “grossest form” of pleasure because humans tend to prefer the refined enjoyments of life. Thus, Mill creates a hierarchy of pleasures, i.e., a spectrum of lower & higher pleasures. Mill’s Utilitarianism is qualitative , in contrast to Bentham’s quantitative approach, because he believes some pleasures are more desirable. “[S]ome kinds of pleasure are more desirable…It would be absurd…[if] the estimation of pleasures should be supposed to depend on quantity alone.” Quality Tribunal of Experience The Higher Pleasures Superiority How do we determine which pleasures are higher & which pleasures are lower? Mill believes that there is “no other tribunal” for settling this question except the “judgment of the experienced,” i.e., asking those capable of enjoying both . In other words, Mill believes that there is a general consensus (among individuals capable of enjoying both types of pleasure) to prefer the higher forms to the lower. “[A]ll who have experience of both give a decided preference…[W]e are justified in ascribing to the preferred enjoyment a superiority in quality.” What sorts of pleasure are more preferable than others? The intellectual & artistic pleasures are more valuable than those desirable for the sake of the body. Preference is given to these pleasures because they are connected to more sophisticated faculties within human nature, & those capacities excite a higher degree of enjoyment. “[Those] equally capable of appreciating and enjoying both [forms of pleasure], do give a most marked preference…Human beings have faculties more elevated than the animal appetites, and when once made conscious of them, do not regard anything as happiness which does not include their gratification.” “A being of higher faculties requires more to make him happy…but in spite of these liabilities, he can never really wish to sink into what he feels to be a lower grade of existence… It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question .” Is an action moral in -itself, or, due to its consequences ? Most people polled believe it is justified to redirect the trolley. These judgements seem to be based on consequentialist reasoning. Reducing deaths would contribute to the GHP. Are moral duties equal? Or, are you more obliged to those you know? Recall: Smith argued that one is naturally inclined to be more sympathetic to one’s relations than to strangers, but he also recognized the moral dangers of such reasoning. • The surveyed responses to this formulation differ from those in the first iteration. • Here, most individuals seem to support a deontological ethic. • Some actions are immoral by their nature, regardless of whether they lead to positive consequences. The Trolley Problem: Professor of Ethics Dilemma Gustafson wants to argue for the relevance of utilitarianism for business ethics & developing models of Corporate Social Responsibility.
He also seeks to offer counter – arguments to commonplace criticisms of utilitarianism by contemporary business ethicists. He contends that utilitarianism is the best basis for evaluating ethical dilemmas, & analyzing moral issues in business today. Another goal is to distinguish sharply between how utility is used in economics today, & what it means in Mill’s moral philosophy. It is often said that businesses are ‘utility’ -maximizers, but this refers to the pursuit of economic self -interest. For Mill, by contrast, utility refers to the “happiness of humanity as a whole.” “Self -interested profit -maximization cost -benefit analysis is often labelled as ‘utilitarianism’, and that has often been the target of business ethicists…[but] utilitarianism is an ethical theory quite different than mere profit maximization.” When we criticize “unethical business practices” today (Gustafson names Enron, Worldcom, & the crisis of 2008), he believes most of us do so for the same reasons as Mill: namely, out of considerations of the common good. One common criticism is that it “compromise[s]…
rights, duties, and justice” for the sake of the GHP. But Gustafson argues that such moral values are “social utilities,” or “derivative” principles, which, in the “long term,” produce beneficial results.
“Preserving rights, duties, and justice is essential to providing the possibility for the greatest happiness for the many — and for maintaining trust in the markets.” Another common critique of utilitarianism is that the GHP demands too much of us. In an “extraordinary circumstance,” Mill accepts the “exit principle” because futile actions do not produce the intended consequence (the GHP). Acting in such a fashion is “futile” as others are not likely to do the same. However, the failure of others to satisfy their moral duties “does not necessarily mean that one has no reason to complete one’s own responsibilities.” Some argue that, since the GHP is about the happiness of the greatest number, minorities may have their happiness sacrificed. This is due to Mill’s failure to integrate something like what we find in Kantian deontological ethics . For these reasons, utilitarianism is said to be “totalitarian and homogeneous, tending to undermine individual liberty and creativity.” Gustafson notes that “utilitarian arguments” support “freedoms for the minority.” Protection for their views & ways of life are essential to the GHP, while “homogeneity” is “dangerous.” Mill himself prized eccentricity & encouraged people to attempt novel “experiments in living.” Some critics charge that, while concerned with the ethical consequences of actions , utilitarianism can offer us no good reasons or motives for acting ethically . But Mill held that there are two main sources of motivation. Internal External Education, culture, habit, & socialization.
Laws, codes of conduct, customs, & public opinion. Hence, even though he was a consequentialist, Mill understood the importance of character, virtues, & habits like Aristotle, as well as motives, sentiments, & feelings like Smith. “[E]xternal sanctions,” e.g., codes of corporate conduct & government legislation, could be used to produce beneficial results. However, ideally, CSR would demand moral “culture formation,” i.e., “nurturing a corporate culture which has implicit expectations.” The “proper socialization and moral education” of employees could be achieved through “ethical training and integrity development.” “Mill’s utilitarianism relies on education and the development of social ties to undergird our moral motivation so that we act according to the GHP…[N] urtured by education or habitual association…my happiness begins to be more and more closely aligned with that of the social good…The GHP is the utilitarians’ guide for action, not the spring for moral motivation…Mill knows that motivation comes through habituation and socialization…In this sense, he is quite like Aristotle who believes ethics is taught more through habit formation like basketball or piano playing.” Some argue that the “hedonic calculus” cannot quantify values which are qualitatively “incongruous.” For example, how does one “weigh the value of the environment against job losses because of increased spending on environmental concerns?” Thus, one cannot morally “audit” companies on the basis of the GHP. “[D]isagreements” about moral dilemmas don’t “derail utilitarianism.” For utilitarians, the GHP is the “starting point” for having a dialogue. We should at least satisfy the principle of “satisfactory happiness,” & set aside the question of “maximal happiness.” Moreover, there are “ethical audits” in the corporate world. There is no “absolute” certainty about the calculus’, but we can make our best judgements as businesses. Animal Welfare Pleasure & Pain Do they suffer? Since our faculties enable us to enjoy higher forms of pleasure , utilitarians might very well argue that humans possess a higher worth than other animals . Recall what Mill has to say about how it is preferrable to be a dissatisfied Socrates rather than a satisfied pig. However, many utilitarians are concerned with animal welfare, especially those creatures capable of experiencing a great amount of pain . As Bentham once put it, “the question is not, Can they reason?, Can they talk?, but, Can they suffer?” Utilitarianism could therefore provide the foundation for models of Corporate Social Responsibility concerned with animal rights & animal well -being. A utilitarian approach to the analysis of moral issues in business would have profound implications for the fish, meat, & poultry industries, & how we view them. Livestock raising, housing, & feeding practices Consumption patterns Brand image & marketing A utilitarian consumer concerned with animal welfare & moral issues in business might… …adopt & promote an alternative diet (i.e., a pescatarian, vegetarian, or vegan lifestyle).
…purchase ethical products (e.g., wild fish, free -range poultry, organic beef). …oppose animal testing (e.g., of food, cosmetic, or even medical products).