After watching Sandel, M. “The Case for Cannibalism.” Harvard University. Lecture/Episode 02. October 3, 2016
- And reading Abumere, F.A. “Utilitarianism.” Rebus Community. Creative Commons 4.0 license.
Write a paper focusing on whether the main elements of utilitarian theory, and its key assumptions and secondary principles, persuade you that the majority were justified in killing the cabin boy. Support your conclusion with critical analysis and reference to the readings. Among other things, consider any or all of the following:
- The utilitarian definition of happiness [pleasures vs. pain]: Correct? Incorrect?
- The difficulty of measuring and comparing the values of certain benefits and costs.
- The relationship of intrinsic vs. instrumental pleasures to the case.
- The conviction held during Bentham’s time that some lives were simply more important than others. Utilitarianism was designed to change that conviction. Is this case an example of doing so?
- The issue of foreseeable consequences.
- The possibility that utilitarianism is incapable of addressing the idea that we all have rights and deserve to be treated fairly.
- The issue of “higher” and “lower” pleasures.
- Is life a “pleasure” equal to others, or something else?
- The utilitarian idea that we must also ask what effect an action will have on the general balance of good over evil.