The Philippa Foot Thought Experiment Free Essay

In the thought experiment by Philippa Foot, Rescue I the main motive is to drive fast and save the five people and not that one person. Suppose we stop to save that one person, the other five people will drown and die. While for Rescue II, as we drive to save the five people about to drown, we come across a drowning man along the narrow path and decide to drive over him killing him in order to reach in time to save the five people about to drown (P. Foot on Killing and Letting Die – Outline). As a result, we end up killing one person and saving five people. In essence, Rescue I is morally good while Rescue II is not. Foot suggests nature of agency and nature of rights explain this. I intend to explore a high influential evaluation of Mill’s theory of utilitarianism, Kant’s deontological theory and criticism of both Mill and Kant in this paper.

The nature of agency comprises a specific sequence of events giving an explanation of why a certain thing happened which would not have happened if some people or agents would not have caused it. The agent is the origin of the sequence where both of them bound. For instance we are not the agent of the death of the one man in Rescue I. Nonetheless, rights of non-interference which establish a moral situation that should not be interfered with by an agent (WOOLLARD, 8). Thus a negative duty is reinstated, whereby one is required not to be an agent. According to rights to service, the agent should be an agent with a positive duty of doing something particularly to that specific person. Even though rights can be a times overridden, it is quite challenging to override a negative duty as compared to a positive duty. A good example of non-interference rights is a right to life, neither is it a right to service. It is difficult to override your right to life, but suppose a particular service is more useful somewhere else, it will easier for you to be denied that service. Therefore, your right to life does not need me to save you, if you don’t have a right to my service I will instead choose to save someone else.

According to the principle of utility, actions are considered to be right as long as they promote pleasure or happiness and wrong suppose they induce pain or unhappiness. Mill stresses that is the quality of pleasure but rather the quality of happiness. The principle of utility applies in Rescue I when we manage to save that one person whom we feel is of more value to us.  In Rescue II, principle of utility applies when we save the five people instead of saving one (P. Foot on Killing and Letting Die – Outline). It pleases us to save more lives rather than saving one and losing five. Mill asserts that according to  utilitarian theory, no matter what motive; either duty  or looking forward to be paid in return is pushing a man to save another man from drowning he is right.

Mill goes ahead to support his theory of utilitarianism claiming that motives and actions performed by the rescuers differ as well as the tyrant and the helper of Rescue I. For the tyrant, he states that is significant to begin with saving the man rather than leaving him to drown. However, motives are feelings that drive the agents to save someone while intentions are what the agents will (P. Foot on Killing and Letting Die – Outline). Therefore Mill would tell the rescuer to rely on is intentions to in deciding on who to rescue because the morality of his actions depends on it and not make decisions based on motives because they make a great difference in the estimations of the agent’s morals. Based on the principle of utility, Mill would tell the rescuer to go ahead and make a decision on whom to rescue as long as he will be please for fulfilling his duty.

Kant would tell the rescuer that any decision to rescue the man would be considered ethical as long as life is saved. As per Kant’s deontology theory, actions that fulfil a duty are considered being moral. Therefore, it will not matter which life will be sacrificed for the other. What is significant here is that at least a life has to be saved. To justify the rescuer’s decision to on who to save between the one person and the other five people, the first version of the Categorical Imperative will apply(P. Foot on Killing and Letting Die – Outline). With regards to the first version of the Categorical Imperative, actions remain considered as moral even when the person performing the action chooses towards one side.

The second version of the Categorical Imperative suggests that we need to act in ways that portrays humanity whether to yourself or to another person always from the beginning to the end. In this situation, it would apply by rescuing the one person we first met then proceed to try to save the other five people from drowning even if it might be too late to save them (WOOLLARD, 9). Saving that one person who we first met would be how we would like to be treated. If I were in his shoes, I would want to be rescued first because I was the first one to be found.

In view of the criticism, Mill criticized that Kant’s Categorical Imperative theory condenses to utilitarianism. Mill came up with a view of morality which was contrasting to Kant’s theory. However, Kant strongly believed that how moral duties do not arise from our action’s consideration of tangible effects from human reasoning. According to Kant, the command and independence of other considerations are accessed directly by the categorical imperative. Contrasting, Mill believed that actions impacting human happiness give rise to our moral obligation. Mill came up with the utilitarian principle based on morality (WOOLLARD, 8). This principle asserts that actions that induce happiness are right while those that induce the opposite of happiness are wrong. In this principle, we take a look and assess the consequences of our actions leads to happiness rather than unhappiness.

            Mill was conscious about Kant’s categorical imperative influence on the philosophers. Nonetheless, Mill asserts that categorical imperative in no way qualifies to be an obligation’s pure rational source. Actually it us a masquerading version of the utilitarian principle which Kant never though it would ever be. Mill however takes on referencing on the general formula of the categorical imperative and dedicates his attack against the law of nature formula (WOOLLARD, 14). It implies that when an action contradicts, it is therefore wrong when universalizing the anticipated maxim. As per Mill, the categorical imperative failure to show any ambiguity and only shows the consequences of universalizing a maxim entails much unhappiness.

            As a matter of fact, Mill’s criticism is much similar to that of Hegel since when universalizing immoral actions the contradictions fails to occur resulting to the failure of the categorical imperative. However, there is Mill’s second section of criticism which is possibly lethal to Kant’s theory. Actually, universalization entails to envision good or bad consequences and no rational conflict. The conception of universalization by Kant is not natural, very hard to understand and impossible to apply in reality. Mill asserts that in universalization we are basically imagining the negative impacts of a universalized rule while Kant claims to be seeking for the contradictions present. In his conclusion, Mill says that Kant’s understanding of universalization is weird; however he claims that it is better than turning down the whole conception of universalization due to its contradiction with consequences(WOOLLARD, 14). Regardless of its tainted resulting history, universalization can still remain to be a significant test.

To conclude, Foot’s sequence account offers a proper distinction between doing and allowing distinction which facilitates a platform for analysis. The best way to apprehend Foot’s account is assert that the agent is the cause of the outcome if his behavior is part of the sequencing resulting into that outcome even though the outcome ought to have been prevented. We naturally distinguish the motive and intension of the rescuer that comprise the sequence resulting to relevant outcome. To conclude, utilitarian conscience demand more regard to for morals than for the public interest as they all are comfortable abstaining for what is obviously malignant to society. Utilitarian mode of thought considers asserting that people ought to make decisions as a society conclusively.