University of Kansas, Fall 2004
Philosophy 160: Introduction to Ethics
Ben Egglestoneggleston@ku.edu

Utilitarianism: Its Implications

For each of the following sets of statements, indicate whether the moral judgment stated at the end of each scenario is implied by utilitarianism.

scenario and moral judgment implied?
1 scenario:

Two people need a liver transplant. One is 30 years old, the other 60. Each is expected (barring accidents, etc.) to live to the age of 80. The two patients are similar in all other respects. There is just one liver available to be transplanted.

moral judgment:

You ought to give the liver to the younger patient.

 
2 scenario:

There are two people in pain, perhaps from an injury; one is in a lot more pain than the other. You have two indivisible doses of morphine. You give one dose to the person in the greater amount of pain.

moral judgment:

You should give the second dose to the other person.
 
3 scenario:

Person A wants to do something that will violate person Bs rightsperhaps A wants to read certain messages in Bs e-mail account. If this happens, Bs increase in unhappiness will outweigh As increase in happiness.

moral judgment:

The right thing to do is for A to read Bs e-mail messages.

 
4 scenario:

same as in number 3, with this addition: If A reads Bs e-mail, then C will also derive some happiness, from hearing from A about the contents of Bs e-mail. Neither As increased happiness nor Cs increased happiness will be as great as Bs increase in unhappiness, but their joint increase in happiness will exceed Bs increase in unhappiness.

moral judgment:

same as in number 3

 
5 scenario:

Person D has promised to pick person E up at the airport. But doing so will be unexpectedly inconvenient for Dso much so that Ds unhappiness, if D picks E up, will be greater than the unhappiness E would have experienced (in terms of making other arrangements, etc.) if D had never promised in the first place.

moral judgment:

D is not obligated to pick E up at the airport.

 
6 scenario:

Person D has promised to pick person E up at the airport. But doing so will be unexpectedly inconvenient for Dso much so that Ds unhappiness, if D picks E up, will be greater than the unhappiness E will experience if D does not pick E up.

moral judgment:

same as in number 5

 
7 scenario:

A company is deciding between two methods of disposing of radioactive waste. Each method involves a dangerous construction project. Method 1 is expected to cost 5 lives in construction, within the next few years, and is expected to result in 15 fatal cases of cancer in 20 years. Method 2 is also expected to cost 5 lives in construction, within the next few years, but is not expected to cause any cases of cancer for the next 100 years. At that time, it is expected to cause 20 fatal cases of cancer.

moral judgment:

 The company should dispose of the waste using method 2.

 
8 scenario:

same as in number 7, plus this: The company has already started to use method 2, and two fatalities have occurred in construction. The company is deciding whether to start over, using method 1.

moral judgment:

The company should start over and use method 1.