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Immoral Actions and Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is one of the directions in ethics, the leading position of which is the usefulness of actions, which determines the moral value of a particular act or an entire behavior model. Besides, the benefit of measures refers to those actions that maximize happiness and pleasure for all affected parties. Although the theory is based on hedonism, there is no place for selfishness in utilitarianism since, according to this teaching, everyone deserves happiness. Thus, from the point of view of this theory, people’s actions can be considered moral if they bring others joy and happiness, and immoral otherwise. Considering the proposed situation in such a context, Nathan’s actions can be unambiguously called immoral for several reasons. First of all, the scientist’s actions are aimed only at the continuation of the research, and the man does not set as his goal to cause pleasure to any of the participants. Moreover, the actions carried out cause displeasure for all three present. Ava, although emotionless, is still forced to obey a self-destructive order that goes against the principles of self-preservation described in Asimov’s Third Law.

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Even disregarding the machine’s opinion, both people present do not experience positive emotions from what is happening. Nathan teases Ava against his will, as it also is part of his research. On the other hand, Caleb is a test subject who is forced to watch Ava’s disassembly, although he has feelings for her. Thus, the order given by Nathan brings pain to all three present, starting with the self-destructive Ava and ending with Caleb, who is forced to watch the suicide of his beloved. Such behavior may be considered immoral even outside the context of utilitarianism, but it also goes against this theory. At the same time, Nathan has a “moral standing” and the ability to stop this process since he observes and directs the entire process, being the head of the research. However, he voluntarily inflicts pain on others, as it is necessary to obtain data for his work. Consequently, his actions are entirely immoral from the point of view of considered ethical theory.

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