ethical choices – utilitarian or fundamental absolutes

Every day we are faced with choices, most of which do not require a great deal of thought. The consequence of choosing to commute by bus or car, whether we eat ready made food or fresh, what colour socks to put on – that kind of thing.

But just as a way of testing our moral position, occasionally we might think about a more extreme scenario. Would we kill under a particular set of circumstances? Would we choose not to intervene when another human being is being attacked? When would we take a stand to oppose the actions of our own elected government?

There was a philosophy lecture at Harvard that was broadcast on the BBC, that explored the moral dilemma that faced some sailors over a hundred years ago, who were facing starvation in a lifeboat hundreds of miles away from land.







Rousseau thought that the state should determine what was best for its citizens. Mill put store by the greatest good or least harm. Are we as individuals not equipped to govern our own base instincts? Or should we accept a predestined future  as the inevitable genetic outcome of our evolutionary struggle?


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