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suffice Utilitarianism

When faced with a moral dilemma, utilitarianism identifies the appropriate considerations, but offers no realistic way to gather the necessary information to make the required calculations. This lack of information is a problem both in evaluating the welfare issues and inevaluating the consequentialist issues which utilitarianism requires be weighed when making moral decisions. Utilitarianism attempts to solve both of these difficulties by appealing to experience; however, no method of reconciling an individual decision with the rules of experience is suggested, and no relative weights are assigned to the various considerations. In deciding whether or not to torture a terrorist who has planted a bomb in New York City, a utilitarian must evaluate both the overall welfare of the people involved or effected by the action taken, and the consequences of the action taken. To calculate the welfare of the people involved in or effected by an action, utilitarianism requires that all individuals be considered equally. Quantitative utilitarians would weigh the pleasure and pain which would be caused by the bomb exploding against the pleasure and pain that would be caused by torturing the terrorist. Then, the amounts would be summed and compared. The problem with this method is that it is impossible to know beforehand how much pain the bomb exploding or how much pain would be caused by the torture would cause. Utilitarianism offers no practical way to make the interpersonal comparison of utility necessary to compare the pains. In the case of the bomb exploding, it at least seems highly probable that the bomb exploding would cause a greater amount of pain, at least in the present. This probability suffices for a quantitative utilitarian, but it does not account for the consequences, which create an entirely different problem, which will be discussed below. The probability also does not hold for Mill's utilitarianism. Mill's Utilitarianism insists on qualitative utilitarianism, which requires that one consider not only the amount of pain or pleasure, but also the quality of such pain and pleasure. Mill suggests that to distinguish between different pains and pleasures we should ask people who have experienced both types which is more pleasurable or more painful. This solution does not work for the question of torture compared to death in an explosion. There is no one who has experienced both, therefore, there is no one who can be consulted. Even if we agree that the pain caused by the number of deaths in the explosion is greater than the pain of the terrorist being tortured, this assessment only accounts for the welfare half of the utilitarian's considerations. Furthermore, one has no way to measure how much more pain is caused by allowing the bomb to explode than by torturing the terrorist. After settling the issues surrounding the welfare, a utilitarian must also consider the consequences of an action. In weighing the consequences, there are two important considerations. The first, which is especially important to objectivist Utilitarianism, is which people will be killed. The second is the precedent that will be set by the action. Unfortunately for the decision-maker, the information necessary to make either of these calculations is unavailable. There is no way to determine which people will be killed and weigh whether their deaths would be good for society. Utilitarianism requires that one compare the good that the people would do for society with the harm they would do society if they were not killed. For example, if a young Adolf Hitler were in the building, it might do more good for society to allow the building to explode. Unfortunately for an individual attempting to use Utilitarianism to make for decisions, there is no way to know beforehand what a person will do. Furthermore, without even knowing which building the bomb is in, there is no way to predict which people will surely be in the building. A subjectivist utilitarian would dismiss this consideration and would examine only what a rational person would consider to be the consequence; however, even the subjectivist utilitarian must face the question of precedent setting. Utilitarianism considers justice and humane treatment to be good for society as a whole and therefore instrumentally good as a means to promoting happiness. Utilitarianism considers precedent ... more

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Descartes Man vs Animal

     Movies and novels such as "Planet of the Apes" and 2001: A Space Odyssey are called Science Fiction because they portray situations that seem extremely unrealistic concurrent with contemporary philosophy. "Planet of the Apes" depicts a world where apes rule while humans are subjected to servitude and confinement. These apes speak intelligibly and are human-like in appearance and behavior. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the highly advanced computer, HAL 9000, an acronym for "Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer," controls the bulk of spaceship operation. It makes declarative statements, learns from mistakes and, in the beginning, interacts well with the crew. In both works non-human entities, apes in one and a robotic system in the other, make spontaneous declarations and perform functions based upon previously acquired "knowledge" which goes against what most consider to be normal animal/machine behavior, thus it is termed Science Fiction. In 1637, celebrated French philosopher and mathematician, Rene Descartes (1596-1650), published Discourse on Method, Optics, Geometry, and Meteorology in which he maintains that he had established two universal criteria to distinguish animals and machines from humans, and thus those entities without souls from those with. His criteria are the entity must have the capacity for speech and act from knowledge. His justifications that machines do not meet these two criteria are sound; however, he fails to verify that animals do the same. Descartes' argument that humans have an infinite capacity to make appropriate responses is true as well as his implication that this capacity is non-material.
Descartes' first argument is only humans have the capacity for speech. In the opening of Discourse on Method Descartes remarks that machines and animals
could never use speech or signs as we do when placing our thoughts on record for the benefit of others. For we can easily understand a machine's being constituted so that it can utter words, and even emit some responses to action on it of a corporeal kind, which brings about a change in its organs.but it never happens that it arranges its speech in various ways, in order to reply appropriately to everything said in its presence. (Descartes)
Speech can simply be defined as the faculty or act of expressing or describing thoughts, feelings, or perceptions by the articulation of words, whereas talking is just an utterance of sounds. Therefore the argument can be reduced to a capacity for speech versus talking because speech, according to Descartes, requires some sort of non-materiel entity capable of the formulation of these statements, which he attributes to the soul. However, simply the utterance of sounds does not require any such entity. Since humans are the only animals that use speech, we must be the only animals equipped with a soul. He also points out that it is not the lack or organs or physical capacity that prevents speech and requires talk: "it is not the want of organs that brings this to pass, for it is evident that magpies and parrots are able to utter words just like ourselves, and yet they cannot speak as we do" (Descartes). He also makes the point that "we ought not to confound speech with natural movements which betray passions and may be imitated by machines as well as be manifested by animals" (Descartes). He is making the point not to interpret the habitual instinct to make a racket and wave appendages when angry as speech. He makes the point as well that machines, by simple programming, can utter sounds that resembles communication but that they are not truly speaking because it is simply the disposition of their organs, not true expression. Descartes' first criterion for distinguishing humans from animals and machines, those with souls from those without, is the capacity for speech. Because humans are the only creatures that use speech to communicate, where other animals may talk (a very primitive version of speech) through programming (robotics) or instinct (animals), they must be equipped with a non-material soul.
     Descartes' first distinguishing factor for differentiating animals and machines from humans is speech and it holds true for both machines and animals. Descartes' second factor, however, is action from knowledge, which does not withstand criticism as well. He states,
although machines can perform certain things as ... more

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