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In the recent blockbuster movie the Dark Knight, there is a scene where batman is faced with choosing between the life and death of two people. He can either save a girl who was essentially his best friend and love interest, or he can save Gotham City district attorney Harvey Dent. While Batman sends his close friend to save Harvey Dent, he continues to go after his love interest Rachael. The locations of these two hostages are switched unknowingly to batman and he ultimately winds up saving Harvey Dent. His love Rachael, unfortunately could not be reached in time and perishes.

I believe this is a great example of to the extent at which we are held morally responsible for our actions.
Batman was responsible for the fates of two individuals whom he knew were in grave danger. He can not directly be held responsible for the death of Rachael because he tried save both her and Harvey. Moreover, he held the position to save both life’s, whereas, he could just have easily let them die. He didn’t need to do anything. Despite the fact that Rachael died, Batman made the best choice for the life’s of the people in Gotham City. He knew Harvey was important to the City and it’s people, and that Rachael was more of a selfish goal. Batman measured his priorities and decided whatever the outcome may be, that Harvey would be the one who must survive. I believe for reasons like this, that we are only morally responsible for a terrible action if we know beforehand, that it is going to cause more “bad” then “good.”

I believe this also proves that by knowing the consequences of a future outcome, we can “judge” the situation based on Utilitarianism. Batman knew that Harvey Dent was the one person who could improve the quality of life for the citizens of Gotham City. He was more important to them because he was a figurehead of good morals who gave them a sense of security and hope. If batman had saved Rachael, chaos would have ensued, and Gotham City would fall into a life of constant crime and violence.

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I believe Aristotle and Neitzsche are right that morality is a quality people have rather than of actions. How often do we hear, that person is very moral, or has a good set of morals? It’s a quality we look for in people, for example liek presidential leaders. We want some one who has a good sense of what is right and wrong, to make good choices for us. By having the quality of morality, a person know whats considered good, before actions are made. Good people will do good deeds, because they have the quality of good morality, whereas bad people  will do bad deeds.

The Categorical Imperative states “Act only such that you could will your maxim into universal law.” The maxim in this case would be if you want to pass a test, cheat. However, according to Kant and the categorical imperative cheating would be an immoral act. Cheating can not be a universal law because if it were universally accepted, it would defeat it’s purpose. If everyone were allowed to cheat we would be left with a room full of people constantly checking each others answers. This ultimately would defeat the purpose of tests, and they would not be given anymore. Moreover, if tests are abolished than there is no future for cheating for the purpose to pass. For these reasons, cheating can not be considered a moral act because it defies the concept of categorical imperative.

Under utilitarianism, one is judged morally on their actions based upon whether or not it increased overall happiness. If often appears that by acting to increase overall happiness, it often leaves the individual as less important. Thus, it’s seems to be an act of selfishness when one does not take into consideration everyone else, and acts based upon there own interests. For this reason, I believe that Utilitarianism is too demanding. Why, must we always appease the masses? Moreover, why is it that if we do not succeed we are considered unmoral? Even if we tried to increase overall happiness and in return failed too, we are unmoral. I feel that utilitarianism is very unforgiving, because it does not take into account intent. If we intend to do something good, but ultimately do something considered bad, why  should we be seen as morally wrong?

objection: morality can’t be all about increasing overall happiness because happiness is unattainable.

While I do not consider myself a utilitarian, I strongly disagree with this objection. You can work to attain happiness even if it’s at the cost of increasing overall happiness. If someone commits a good moral act, aren’t they going to achieve some sort of happiness in there outcome. For example, if a very religious person donates his or her money to charity, they increase overall happiness. Others benefit from their generosity, however, does not the donor receive happiness knowing they did a deed there God defines as morally good? Don’t we all feel happy when we help someone in need? If happiness were unattainable, than why would we we bother to do such actions?

It is my belief that happiness does have intrinsic value. I can benefit from happiness that I created for myself, while at the same time having that happiness not affect anyone else. Basically, I can act in way, where my actions are only morally affecting myself. If I were to take my guitar and write a song, thus increasing my happiness at what I have accomplished; than my happiness is not dependent on anyone or anything else. If I took the song and shared it with a public, than it would lose it’s intrinsic value. However, if I keep it solely for my own enjoyment then it retains it.

If Mill were alive today and I could ask him a question about utilitarianism, it would have to pertain to the idea of being able to make the best choice in the least amount of time. Mill once defended Utilitarianism against it’s objectors who say “that there is not time, previous to action, for calculating and weighing the effects of any line of conduct on the general happiness.” Mill believes that we don’t need time because we know what decision to make based on the past, and what we have learned and experienced. So if I had to ask one question it would be: isn’t there certain situation, which is foreign to us, and we can not rely on our experience to judge what be the best general outcome. Surely, Mill would have to agree because we witness situations everyday where we are treading in unfamiliar waters. Yet, Mill will stand his ground and defend Utilitarianism because if he admitted to being wrong about one objection, he would have to rethink them all.

In group 2 we discussed the objection to Mill of “happiness, in any form, cannot be the rational purpose of human life and action.” Mill declares that the objectors feel that happiness is unattainable and that man can renounce happiness. Mill, to some extent agrees that it is possible to do without happiness. However, he believes the sacrifice of happiness by an individual, is usually for the happiness of others. Mill asks “would the sacrifice be made if the hero or martyr did not believe that it would earn for others immunity from similar sacrifices?” Basically Mill responds that a hero will at times sacrifice his own happiness, in order to prevent a greater number of people from having to sacrifice their own happiness. He continues to say that by realizing we can do without happiness, also helps us to realize that happiness is attainable.

I’m going to have to agree with Mill, that the “higher” pleasures of life are better than the “lower” ones. The pleasure I get from reading a good book is more significant than the pleasure I would get from watching a movie of that same book. For example, when I read Beowulf; there were no pictures to show me what he or his world looked like. I was free to imagine his image and his environment to my liking. When it became a 3-d movie, it lost some of that luster. For example, the monster Grendel was a disappointment as to what I had envisioned in my head. When i read the epic poem, Grendel was a massive monstrous beast, but the CGI version of him was a wimpy, crippled, and ultimately tragic man. It almost made the feat of Beowulf stopping him seem less impressive. While I did enjoy the movie, it is something that I took only a limited u of pleasure from, whereas the book has till this day kept me thinking and imagining. I still satisfy my mind’s taste for pleasure by comparing my version of the Grendel compared to the movies version. It is far more pleasurable to figure something out and create it, then to simply have someone show you it. For this reason I believe Hill was right that “higher” pleasures are superior to the “lower” pleasures.

If God were to be unreasonable, wouldn’t he be immoral. Morality, in a sense, is determined by what a culture, or group of people believe to be reasonable behavior. If something is deemed moral, there is a reason as to why it is considered to be moral. Cultures that set their moral standards don’t simply create belief’s without considering why they believe that way to begin with. For example.  Christians believe that it is immoral to kill another person. They do not believe its is wrong to kill someone because God said so, but because they have the logic to understand and reason that killing someone is wrong. If they understand that DCT is false and that God found a reason as to why killing is wrong, they can see that God is moral. However, even if someone did believe in DCT, it would not always prove that God is immoral. A unreasonable God, who commands what is moral blindly, can also be a moral God. If God simply says killing is wrong, without defining a reason as to why it is wrong; he is still moral because it is widely accepted and believed that killing is wrong. As long as an unreasonable God blindly commands what is known to be true and right, he can be moral because he did not command what is wrong.