Utilitarian Ethical Problems and the Utility Common Good Test

Utilitarianism is one of the theories of normative ethics claiming that the right course of action is the one that maximizes utility, meaning going for the decisions that capitalize on benefits while at the same time reducing the chances of suffering or the negative effects. Aristotle was one of the classical philosophers to have talked about eudemonia, meaning happiness. The theory underscores the fact that the ethical value of any action is measured by its resulting consequences meaning the greatest number of people should be satisfied with a decision. Recent scholars are of the view that knowledge gained in the natural and social science splay a role in determining what is right and wrong (Mill 10).

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The theory is always viewed as a quantitative approach to ethics in the sense that it employs reductionist ideas because it focuses much on the consequences of an event. According to utilitarianism, an organization is said to be ethical if it engages in actions that aim at bringing satisfaction to the majority. In the case provided, the company expected to supply transistors in the manufacture of heart pacemakers has an ethical responsibility of ensuring that the greatest number of people are satisfied.

The company developing pacemaker technology is trying to save a life by ensuring that an individual survives beyond the expected time. However, the technology is claimed to be faulty in the sense that it interferes with the normal functioning of the heart. In other words, technology is delicate because it is a threat to human survival, and this makes it inapplicable in many hospitals. It is evident that the greatest number of individuals would not be satisfied because their loved ones would lose life because of a defective technology (Soifer 23). This means that the supplier company should stop doing business with the organization developing the technology.

The board member claiming that the transistor company risks a legal suit is right because it has the moral responsibility of ensuring that only machines that support life are made. In other words, they should be aware of the usage of their goods instead of minding only the business. If several other suppliers have pulled out of business with the pacemaker company, then the transistor company has to follow suit as one way of preventing suffering.

According to Jeremy Bentham, nature places human beings under the control of two masters, one of them being a pain while the other is a pleasure. In this case, it is upon the human beings to choose what they desire (Bentham 81). Whenever presented with an opportunity, an individual has to choose an option that guarantees happiness and prevents the chances of suffering. Similarly, the government, private organizations, and individuals should always be inspired to do the right thing and avoid evil at all times. In the case provided, Bentham would have encouraged the supplier company to terminate business with the pacemaker business partner since the technology being produced is inconsistent with utilitarian ethics. The theorist went on to formulate a formula for calculating pain and pleasure, which is commonly referred to as the hedonic calculus.

In his view, pleasure and pain could be determined by calculating the intensity, duration, confidence/improbability, and proximity/solitude. Again, the productiveness of an act has to be taken into consideration because a fruitful one ought to be followed because it is pure. Finally, special consideration should be made regarding the number of individuals that an act is likely to affect. In the case provided, the pacemaker technology is faced with several uncertainties meaning it does not have a huge following because it is impure, meaning it should never be supported. Bentham would advise the board members to reject the request by the pacemaker company to continue supplying it with the much-needed transistors.

Utility test aims at checking whether a decision would maximize the benefits while at the same time reducing suffering. The process entails a careful review of the consequences because the ends are said to justify the means. If the results are negative, it means that the method employed was wrong in the first place. Happiness is said to have been achieved in case pain is reduced, and pleasure is enhanced.

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Again, many individuals should be supportive of the decision, and finally, money should be an indicator of preferences. The first step entails determining the existing courses of action and how various stakeholders would be affected. In the case provided, those affected are the members of the public since the technology does not play a positive role as far as saving lives is concerned. The second pertains to going for the most viable options by determining their costs and benefits. Again, this entails engaging in probability tests to determine the facts and experiences. Additionally, the supplier company should evaluate its long-term, as well as short-term goals before going on with the deal. The third step involves going for the best option that maximizes the benefits over the costs in the current situation. Several options exist, including suing the pacemaker company for misusing the transistors, but the supplier has to go for the cheapest option, which is terminating the contract.

The decision to continue doing business with the pacemaker company is costly in the end because the transistor company might be sued together with the technology firm. The last step is asking what would have happened in case the decision taken was applied in all similar situations in the future. Studies show that an organization is likely to employ a similar strategy when faced with a problem in the future. In this regard, the option taken should be stable and parsimonious in the sense that it would be relied on in the future in making similar decisions. Unfortunately, the decision to continue supplying the transistors is unproductive since the company risks losing public confidence, which has the potential of affecting sales.

The common good test begins with the question of whether proper measures are in place to facilitate the greatest happiness. The first step in the test is specifying the sections of the common good that are involved whereby social institutions, environments, and ideologies are looked into carefully (Westacott 78).

Unlike the utility test, the common good does not focus on befits and costs; instead, it aims at exploring whether the action has any potential harm. The second step entails explaining why the supplier company has the moral obligation to promote and protect the common good. Usually, an organization known to fight for the interests of the public has always performed well in the market. The step involves assessing whether a proposed action conflicts in any way with the company obligation meaning the supplier company should pull out of the business since the deal would spoil its image in the market.

Works Cited

Bentham, Jeremy. An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. New York: Dover Publications, 2009. Print.

Mill, John. A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive. New York: Forgotten Books, 2011. Print.

Soifer, Eldon. Ethical Issues: Perspectives for Canadians. Toronto: Broadview Press, 2009. Print.

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Westacott, Emrys. The Virtues of Our Vices: A Modest Defense of Gossip, Rudeness, and Other Bad Habits. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012. Print.

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