John Stuart Mill’s Greatest Happiness principle including what he means by happiness and whose happiness is taken into consideration
According to John Stuart Mill, happiness is the pleasure without pain, whereas unhappiness is because of pain and the privation of pleasure. Happiness is the best in the world; it is one thing that is desired by every human creature. The desire for happiness by people replaced all the desires of the heart. Thus, it is said that happiness is the main cause for all the desires of human creatures. According to John Stuart’s Greatest Happiness’ principle, “actions are right in proportion as they try to improve or promote happiness, and wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (Mill 34).
This principle demonstrates that all people worldwide naturally do their best to promote their own happiness in order to avoid unhappiness. This fact is not ethical but happens naturally to everyone. Enhancing happiness is considered ethical when it is done to all people and not just on personal basis. John Stuart’s principle figures out how many get affected by an action, how they are affected by an action, how they are affected and whether the action is right or wrong. Therefore, the Greatest Happiness Principles explains that an action is right when it promotes happiness in every person who is affected by that action, whereas wrong brings unhappiness to the people affected by that action. For instance, incase a person is made happier by movie and books, the pleasure he gets by reading books and watching movies is taken into account in John Stuarts calculus. However, if he steals the book from someone else, then the utilitarian calculus also takes into account the pain the owner of the book was caused. Therefore, the unhappiness created by the stealing of the book seems to outweigh the happiness of the reader of the book and hence this action is considered immoral.
Kant’s distinction between acting from duty and acting merely in accord with duty
Acting in accordance with duty may actually conform to an action carried out from duty, although it has no moral value because the emotion is the basis for action, but not duty. This means that actions that correspond to moral axioms whether by accident or not are known to be reinforced by non-moral motives lack moral worth. This is differentiated fro acting from duty when we consider Kant’s definition of the concept of duty. Therefore, an action is termed as being moral when a person acts or behaves out of respect for moral law. The idea of acting out of an acknowledgement of respect is what is referred as duty. Thus, by acting duty, there is acting out of respect for moral law. Nevertheless, when acting in accordance with duty, a person is acting for some reason other than respect. Therefore, Kant has elaborated clearly on the concept of acting from duty and acting merely with accord. According to Kant, the morality and immorality of an act focuses largely on the effects of that action. Kant demonstrate to us that lying is always immoral and it does not matter the consequences of the lie, thus this ethics tells s that telling a lie is a very bad thing although sometimes it is right depending on the consequences. It is advisable therefore to always act in conformity to duty. Although out actions is only praise worthy when we put them for the sake of duty, rather than for the sake of consequence.
Features shared by the autonomous rational being
Important features that are autonomous, rational being share according to Michael Allen Fox include the feature of self-determination deliberative and responsible action and have the ability of awareness that is required to realize the kind of action vital to their nature and development as human beings. They also have the ability to recognize autonomy in others and provide full participation in the moral community. This means that they are able to assign rights to others and claim them for oneself that leads to providing a declaration of nonintervention in the self-governing lives of others. Other features shared by the autonomous rational beings include ability to demonstrate difficult ideas and apply them as a significant language especially for communicating desires, choices and wishes. The ability to plan reflects, choose, and accept tasks for acting. These people share critical self-awareness; they anticipate problems or challenges in their daily lives, make and follow rules, engage in moral behavior that affects others as well as themselves. Therefore, the autonomous people have great features that they share, which enable them to cope well with one another in the moral community without causing harm to any of the member.
The concept of the moral community and what it takes a being to be a member thereof
According to Michael Allen Fox, the moral community is referred to as a group of human beings or other species that share particular characteristic and whose members are or consider themselves to be under strict rules of conduct in relation to one another due to their mutual likeness. The rules made are supposed to build obligations and derive in some intimate way from the characteristics that the human beings composing the moral community have in common. Therefore, in a more broader sense, moral community is a society comprising of human beings that share same qualities and they related by natural bonds of obligation. However, it should be noted that not all beings in a moral community accept that they are tied to follow particular standards of rules of conduct even by virtue of realizing and acknowledging that others posse quality characteristics with them (Fox 184). Due to the power that exists in moral community, such exceptions never undermine the morals community or even destroy the strong bond of unity that maintains it together.
For a being to be a member of the moral community, they must be by nature able to function as one. For instance, they should have right characteristics, have a sense of critical self-awareness, must be able to manipulate difficult or complex ideas and use a simple language, and the ability to reflect, plan, deliberate, choose and accept duties for acting. These characteristics enable human beings autonomous or self-directing and capable of functioning as rational moral agents. Thus, in general a moral community is a known as a social group comprising of interacting autonomous beings where moral ideas and precepts can occur and be understood.
Non-human animals cannot be members of this community because their characteristic does not suit those of the human beings. Animals are not able to establish the moral superiority of human beings or of autonomous agents. Lacking in various degrees the possession of capacities on which moral autonomy or agency depends, animals fail to meet the necessary conditions specified for one to be a member of the moral community and they fail to qualify for having rights. It is hard for animals to begin acting as equal in a society of human beings thus they cannot be counted within the bond of association that creates morality and its institutions viable and provides them vitality.
An example of an animal breaking a rule includes the dog, which is well trained but it, still lets its master down, such an animal deserves to be punished or undergo other manifestation of displeasure. Thus, this is in contrast with a human person breaking the rule after being given adequate skills and knowledge to perform certain task but as a result, the person does not fulfill or does not accomplish the responsibility as required.
The problem that mentally defective human pose
The mentally defective human beings pose great challenges and responsibilities to the moral community in that they leave the community with task of deciding on how to group them or whether to include them in the moral community or seclude them like the animals. This is because these people do not participate as required in the activities of the moral community because of their various unavoidable circumstances. According to Fox, the mentally defective individuals need not to be separated from the normal members but rather, they are to be considered as members of an immediate extended moral community and thus be provided with the necessary moral support by others.
These people need to be treated depending on their potential for full agency taking into consideration their previous participation. Another response provided by Fox is that, there should be consideration of the degree to which the behavior of these people and capacities approximate what is generally considered human characteristically and the extent to which their behavior and capacities allow full participation in the moral community. Therefore, extending the moral community to participate in taking care of the mentally defective members does not exclude other species in principle from being attended to in a similar manner or hinder them from attaining the full membership in the moral community in case they succeed.
Every person should have an obligation to people of the immediate families so that proper treatment under particular circumstances be applied or provided to members of the human family with the mentally defective persons. People should develop a sense of love and concern to the less fortunate persons so that they can also feel loved and appreciated despite their shortcomings since it is not their desire or wish to be in that state. These people with mental defect should be viewed at as people with great potentials and great value to the moral community in that it is always said that disability is not inability. Given a chance, some of these people are able to function and participate in doing some tasks that do not need much energy or too much thinking. Therefore, they should be appreciated, cared for and given enough treatment as required.
Fox, Michael. The moral community. New York, NY: Press, 2009. Print.
Mill, John. Utilitarianism. Chicago, CA: Routledge, 1999. Print.