Pros And Cons Of Act Utilitarianism

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Jim, a man who went on a botanical expedition, accidently lands himself in a Southern American town. He finds a group of twenty Indians tied up against a wall and men in uniform standing across from them. He sees that the captain in charge, Pedro, is about to kill them all for forming a protest against the government. However, since Jim is a guest on Pedro’s land, he is given the honor to shoot one Indian in order to save the rest. The men against the wall are begging him to accept, but he is not quite sure on what to do. In this paper, I will discuss what Williams argues about utilitarianism facing some problems from the responsibility objection. First, I will explain what act utilitarianism (AU) is and then explain how the responsibility objection argues that AU is false. I will then give reasons as what Williams thinks about utilitarianism and on what Jim ought to do. According to act utilitarianism, an action is right, if and only if, its consequences produce at least as much overall utility as the consequences of any alternative action. AU is completely general and evaluates actions solely by their results. In this case, if Jim shoots one of the Indians, the rest of them will be set free, thus maximizing utility by saving more lives. If Jim ought not to shoot, then utility would be less than…show more content…
In Jim’s circumstance, he ought not to shoot because it is not his responsibility to prevent the harms, according to the responsibility objection. Pedro is the one who put Jim in the position to shoot. So, if Jim does not shoot the Indian in order for the other Indians to be saved, he is not acting immorally. Williams says that Jim possibly ought not to shoot the Indian, and if Jim does end up shooting one of the Indians, then it is not for the reason of

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