CRITICS TO UTILITY APPROACHES TO JUSTICE:

Introduction: Utility principle of justice belief in greater happiness of the greater number of the society; I will discuss two event based on philosophy of Utilitarianism. In this theory, Bentham talk about sovereign master as “pain and pleasure; happiness he understood a predominance of “pleasure” over “pain”. And his theory of judgments based on the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong. Let me take event to justify it;

  1. To illustrate, one justification for the persistent practice of torture of detainees by security forces is in the name of protecting the freedom and security of a majority of the society, which draws its philosophical reasoning from the Utilitarian school, which emphasizes the basis of legislation being the principle of greatest happiness of the greater number.
  2. To illustrate second justification; Unites State (US) Marines was sent to Afghanistan to kill the Taliban. When they reach near Taliban camps; the innocent shepherds know their present. So the question was, should they kill innocent and unarms person to complete their mission under the principle of utilitarian justice? Or should the innocent person go free and take a high risk on their mission in moral ground of justice?

 

Main content: Bentham’s philosophy of utilitarianism is base on the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong. Bentham claimed to have “the good and happiness of the members that is the majority of the members of any state”. The greatest happiness principle or the principle of utility forms the cornerstone of all Bentham’s thought. According to his concept in “The Principle of Utility”, the nature has placed mankind under the governance of two, sovereign masters that is, “pain and pleasure.” It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand, the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think. He also suggested a procedure for estimating the moral status of any action, which he called the Hedonistic or felicific calculus.  In Mill’s hands, “Benthamism” became a major element in the liberal conception of state policy objectives. Example of two events or issues of policy concern and analyze each of them in the light of utilitarian approaches of justice can be discussing below:

  1. To illustrate, one justification for the persistent practice of torture of detainees by security forces is in the name of protecting the freedom and security of a majority of the society, which draws its philosophical reasoning from the Utilitarian school, which emphasizes the basis of legislation being the principle of greatest happiness of the greater number: There are two things coming in my mind; firstly, the detainees were torturing by security forces for protecting the freedom and security of a majority of the society. And that action might be justified according to utilitarian ideas, but according to my understanding, the detainees can be tortures for the greater interest of the society for a reasons, the reasons to find out the truth or interrogate on specific issues to solve the social-problem when he/she has involve in, or only if the detainees belong to some terrorists group/secessionist groups. However, torturing innocent person without reasons, and punishing for the sake of protecting the freedom and security of the majority of the society is totally against my belief in principle of equity and justice. Because I belief to live in justice and everyone is equal before the law of the land. Secondly, punishing detainees by security forces is in the name of protecting the freedom and security of a majority of the society before he/she was pronounced by court as guilty, then it is not a good justice and it is not rightful action, morally speaking. And punishing innocent person is morally wrong.

On the other hand, if the same issue were to be analyzed from the freedom point of view, then the issue of due process and rights of the detainee take precedence over the above justification. The individual rights can’t be violated by any groups unless he/she violate the law of the land. Punishing someone and torturing detainees in the jail before the court declare he/she guilty, then it is totally opposed the spirit of Human Right and right of the citizens in the state.

 

  1. To illustrate second justification; Unites State (US) Marines was sent for a mission to Afghanistan; their mission is to kill the terrorists so-called Taliban. When they reached near the Taliban camps, their present was notice by shepherds who are innocent and unarms, if they kill them under utilitarian principle, then they might success their dream of American to eliminate terrorist but on the other hand, it is morally not right to kill an innocent person, and if they let them go on moral ground then the Taliban will known their present, and their mission will not be completed. In this situation, should the armies kill the innocent shepherds, which draw its philosophical reasoning from the Utilitarian principle, which emphasizes on the basis of legislation being the principle of greatest happiness of the greater number?

My answer will be no! The marines should not kill the innocent person. Because the innocent person has moral right to live on earth as long as they did no harm to other, and innocent person did not given authority or consent to US Marines to kill them. Then, where the marines derive right to kill the innocent person, morally speaking. Thereby, in this situation, the US Marines should withdraw immediately, in order to safe their life and the life of shepherds, and find the other way for solution. But they should not kill the innocent person. However, I agree some part of utilitarian principle that when the enemies throw granite bomb in army bunger, then one soldier can voluntarily sacrifice himself/herself to save other comrades.  But, if the armies kill innocent persons intentionally, then I won’t give applauds to US marines even if they won the war by breaking the law.

On the other hand, hurting and killing innocent persons unintentionally in the warfare is different and it’s excusable or acceptable under certain term and condition for the greater happiness of the greater number of people. Even the US Marine commander regretted his decision for not killing the innocent person, which lead to the lost of many marine life and he himself luckily escape at last. We can take other example: acquiring individual land for public purposes under utilitarian principle can be acceptable in some extent but forceful acquisition is totally unacceptable.  However, the crime is always a crime, whether they committed knowingly or unknowing. Thereby, it wouldn’t be acceptable to kill innocent persons; even this would produce an amount of greater happiness of a greater numbers of the American. At last, I understand that majority is not always right; justice shouldn’t favors to larger number people and it should not be “might is right” but the truthful justice should be based on the law of the land under the principle of equity and justice.

 

Critics and critical appreciation on Bentham utility: In my understanding, Mr. Bentham should not be overlooked on “hedonistic” theory; because he can be criticizing for lacking a principle of fairness embodied in a conception of justice. According to Gerald J. Postema, “No moral concept suffers more at Bentham’s hand than the concept of justice. There is no sustained, mature analysis of the notion…”  According to Kelly, on Bentham the law that “provides the basic framework of social interaction by delimiting spheres of personal inviolability within which individuals can form and pursue their own conceptions of well-being”.  Thereby, I personally disagree some part of utilitarian ideas of justice because; I do not favor the sacrifice of a few to the benefit of the larger number of the society.

Analysis on Bentham utility:

  1. Bentham’s principle of utility and his view of morality ties into legislative practices. His principle of utility regards “good” as that which produces the greatest amount of pleasure and the minimum amount of pain and “evil” as that which produces the most pain without the pleasure. This concept of pleasure and pain is defined by Bentham as physical as well as spiritual. Bentham writes about this principle as it manifests itself within the legislation of a society. He lays down a set of criteria for measuring the extent of pain or pleasure that a certain decision will create.
  2. The criteria are divided into the categories of intensity, duration, certainty, proximity, productiveness, purity, and extent. Using these measurements, he reviews the concept of punishment and when it should be used as far as whether a punishment will create more pleasure or more pain for a society.
  3. He calls for legislators to determine whether punishment creates an even more evil offence. Instead of suppressing the evil acts, Bentham argues that certain unnecessary laws and punishments could ultimately lead to new and more dangerous vices than those being punished to begin with, and calls upon legislators to measure the pleasures and pains associated with any legislation and to form laws in order to create the greatest good for the greatest number.
  4. He argues that the concept of the individual pursuing his or her own happiness cannot be necessarily declared “right”, because often these individual pursuits can lead to greater pain and less pleasure for a society as a whole. Therefore, the legislation of a society is vital to maintain the maximum pleasure and the minimum degree of pain for the greatest number of people.

 

Conclusion:  The utilitarian approaches of justice give a broad sense of understand on justice based on the ideas of the greater happiness of the greater number of people. Here I discuss on two issues in against of utilitarian ideas of justice as under:

  1. First justification, for the persistent practice of torture of detainees by security forces is in the name of protecting the freedom and security of a majority of the society; here I advocate for the right of innocent person who is punish for the greater happiness of the society. It is not morally right to give punishment to innocent person.
  2. Second justification for the sending of Unites State (US) Marines for a mission to Afghanistan; their mission is to eliminate the Taliban in their camp. Unfortunate the present of US marine in that areas was found by shepherd; who are innocent and unarms, if they kill them, they might success their “American Mission”. Thereby, here again I advocate for the innocent because it is morally not right to kill innocent person.

Critical appreciation on Bentham utility on my understanding, Mr. Bentham should not be overlooked on “hedonistic” theory; because he can be criticizing for lacking a principle of fairness embodied in a conception of justice. My belief on justice is different from utilitarianism philosophy of justice because; I believe in moral justice, and I do not favor the sacrifice of a few to the benefit of the many. I analyze on utility principle of pain and pleasure and its measurement.  The punishment creates more happiness and sometimes it lead to more evil and dangerous in the society. At last, he talk about the legislation of a society is vital to maintain the maximum pleasure and the minimum degree of pain for the greatest number of people. However, I believe in moral and legal judgment; I believe everyone is equality before the law of the land and the justice should be available to all people under the principle of equity and fair justice.

 kharingyo shimrah

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