Utilitarianism (Death) Framework
The value criterion is...minimizing risk of death.
Here are some of the best justifications for a utilitarianism (death) framework.
All ethical theories must begin from a source of value since only a grounding of value can answer endless questioning of ethics – arguments about rights or respect assume that these things have some intrinsic worth which everyone accepts as good
This means consequentialism –
First, only states of affairs give teleological relevance to ethics
Ariansen 98 Per Ariansen (University of Oslo, Department of Philosophy). “Anthropocentrism with a human face.” Ecological Economics 24 (1998) 153–162 AJ
Suspending for a while the idea of morality as a game, one could approach the question of the nature of ethics from another angle. One could try to seek out a set of necessary and sufficient condi- tions for ethics to be operative. What traits of ethics cannot be lacking without ethics losing its meaning? Will ethics be meaningful in a world where no suffering (to focus on the duty to alleviate suffering rather that promote happiness) is known to anyone? Technically it would be possible to tell a lie or break a promise in such a society, but the difference between lying and telling the truth or breaking and keeping promises would have no moral significance, since any outcome of any event is just as good (rather, as indifferent) as any other outcome of the event. In such a world any mention of responsibilities and duties would be meaningless. Ethics clearly needs to relate to joy and suffering. This axiological orientation is necessary to give meaning to the ethical project, to mark it out as an ethical project in contrast to other projects of rationalization.
Teleology outweighs and is a litmus test for ethical theories – if other ethics are meaningless then we should use consequentialism anyways
Second, government actions will inevitably lead to trade-offs between citizens since they benefit some and harm others; the only justifiable way to resolve these conflicts is by benefitting the maximum possible number of people since anything else would unequally prioritize one group over another. Several impacts:
a. Side constraint theories are useless for states since they’ll inevitably violate some constraint
b. Answers util indicts since non-consequentialist moral theories prevent any action which is worse than not being able to use util
c. Takes out indicts about calculability since governments already use util which proves it is possible to do so
Third, people accept utilitarianism as an appropriate way to judge the actions of decision-makers. This commits governments to take actions with beneficial outcomes.
Gino et al 2008 Francesca Gino Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Don Moore Tepper Business School, Carnegie Mellon University, Max H. Bozman Harvard Business School, Harvard University “No harm, no foul: The outcome bias in ethical judgments” http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/08-080.pdf AT
The present studies provide strong evidence of the existence of outcome effects in ethically-relevant contexts, when people are asked to judge the ethicality of others’ behavior. It is worth noting that what we show is not the same as the curse of knowledge or the hindsight bias. The curse of knowledge describes people’s inability to recover an uninformed state of mind (Camerer, Loewenstein, and Weber, 1989). Likewise, the hindsight bias leads people to misremember what they believed before they knew an event’s outcome (e.g., Fischhoff, 1975; Fischhoff and Beyth, 1975). By contrast, we show that that outcomes of decisions lead people to see the decisions themselves in a different light, and that this effect does not depend on misremembering their prior state of mind. In other words, people will see it as entirely appropriate to allow a decision’s outcome to determine their assessment of the decision’s quality.
a. This answers standard indicts since it proves util is not counter-intuitive or hard to calculate since most people already believe in it.
b. Turns autonomy negs since util best achieves the interests of people – even if people say they prefer something else, util achieves the aim that they try to serve with their decisions
c. Governments are non-functional absent util since citizens will only support a government that serves their interests – prerequisite since existence of the state is key to any other obligation
Independent of considerations of future happiness or life, death is ontologically the worst possible evil since it destroys the subject iself
Paterson, 03 – Department of Philosophy, Providence College, Rhode Island (Craig, “A Life Not Worth Living?”, Studies in Christian Ethics.
Contrary to those accounts, I would argue that it is death per se that is really the objective evil for us, not because it deprives us of a prospective future of overall good judged better than the alter- native of non-being. It cannot be about harm to a former person who has ceased to exist, for no person actually suffers from the sub-sequent non-participation. Rather, death in itself is an evil to us because it ontologically destroys the current existent subject — it is the ultimate in metaphysical lightening strikes.80 The evil of death is truly an ontological evil borne by the person who already exists, independently of calculations about better or worse possible lives. Such an evil need not be consciously experienced in order to be an evil for the kind of being a human person is. Death is an evil because of the change in kind it brings about, a change that is destructive of the type of entity that we essentially are. Anything, whether caused naturally or caused by human intervention (intentional or unintentional) that drastically interferes in the process of maintaining the person in existence is an objective evil for the person. What is crucially at stake here, and is dialectically supportive of the self-evidency of the basic good of human life, is that death is a radical interference with the current life process of the kind of being that we are. In consequence, death itself can be credibly thought of as a ‘primitive evil’ for all persons, regardless of the extent to which they are currently or prospectively capable of participating in a full array of the goods of life.81 In conclusion, concerning willed human actions, it is justifiable to state that any intentional rejection of human life itself cannot therefore be warranted since it is an expression of an ultimate disvalue for the subject, namely, the destruction of the present person; a radical ontological good that we cannot begin to weigh objectively against the travails of life in a rational manner. To deal with the sources of disvalue (pain, suffering, etc.) we should not seek to irrationally destroy the person, the very source and condition of all human possibility.82
Since preservation of life is intrinsically good we have an ethical obligation to meet that duty to the best of our ability – arguments like over-demandingness, act-omission distinction, and intent/foresight distinction are ultimately useless since they have no ethical grounding in an intrinsic good. It’s tautological to say that maximizing good will maximize the good, so any constraints on my framework are false.
Thus, my standard is minimizing risk of death.
[This framework originally and generously contributed by PV Peninsula.]