Essay Defense Of Utilitarianism

Submitted By Erika-Taylor
Words: 486
Pages: 2

Erika Taylor
PHL 309
2/4/2015
Response Paper
Utilitarianism: On Nielson’s “A Defense of Utilitarianism” In his essay “A Defense of Utilitarianism”, Nielson is arguing against moral absolutism, or the idea that there are “privileged moral principle(s)…with which it would always be wrong not to act in accordance no matter the consequence”. In lamer terms, he believes that people are responsible for the consequences of the things they do and for the consequences of the things that they did not do. He supports this idea with two examples: the case of killing someone in order to save everyone else, and a case where a magistrate is threatened to condemn an innocent person that the mob will not murder innocent people. Since Nielson is in strong favor of consequentialism, he believes that in both cases, there should be consequences of the act even though it was done to increase the satisfaction of the greater good. In order to argue for the general thesis that moral principles should never be violated through our actions, Nielson presents stories in which the killing of an innocent person is justified because the decisions were not made by people who are corrupt, but by people that were in difficult situations. In the case of the innocent fat man, he was stuck in the only opening of the cave and the only options were to drown or blow the opening, with the man included, with dynamite. As a utilitarian, Nielson supports the act of killing the fat man to save everyone else. Nielson states that a moral conservative would argue that “…it is always wrong to kill the innocent”(209), but he would also argue that the people who would otherwise drown would be considered innocent as well. In the case of the magistrate and the threatening mob, Nielson argues that a…