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Discuss with your peers:

· This scenario and the corresponding questions always elicit a wide range of responses. Some people will disagree about the right choice to make, and some people will agree on the right choice but for different reasons. Discuss with your peers each other’s answers to these questions, especially when your peers’ answers differ from yours, and use that as a chance to draw out the strengths and weaknesses of utilitarianism.

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1. Do you agree with that? Why or why not?

2. Do you find yourself agreeing with the utilitarian about the answer to one of the scenarios but not the other? If so, explain what accounts for that difference. Does this point to objections, limitations, or flaws in the utilitarian approach? Explain.

3. If you found yourself agreeing with the utilitarian about both scenarios, how would you defend your view against those that might have given different answers?


Whether saving five workers is more significant than saving one worker is a difficult decision to make. Regardless of my judgment, the result is not going to be favorable. Sometimes, we put our happiness and safety aside to benefit others by not considering the pain and suffering of our own lives. According to Thames (2018), utilitarianism is the theory that morally right actions, laws, or policies are those whose consequences have the greatest positive value and least negative value compared to available alternatives. Whether I pull the lever and send the train to the sidetrack or let it continue its course, the noble thing to do is try to save as many as possible. As a consequence, people will say how they agree or disagree with my decision. According to Mill’s (1863), the Greatest Happiness Principle, “the utilitarian standard; for that standard is not the agent’s own greatest happiness, but the greatest amount of happiness altogether; and if it may possibly be doubted whether a noble character is always the happier for its nobleness, there can be no doubt that it makes other people happier, and that the world in general is immensely a gainer by it” Thames (2018).

The large man thinks that his weight will stop the train, which is very unpredictable. As long as he can do it, then go for it. I’ll support him and lend a helping hand since I’m not large enough and won’t do it myself. However, if I decide to push him over the railing, which I am not willing to do. The only option is to try and save them without getting killed ourselves and to hope that they hear and see the train approaching. Even though I think that I give my life for another person and wonder if that is the right thing to do, could I handle it by doing nothing to save five men’s lives? According to Mill’s statement, “Jesus are known for having willingly endured tremendous suffering for the sake of a greater cause” I am not Jesus, he is perfect, and he did it for all of us. In fact, I agree with the utilitarian theory that the greatest happiness is the best. According to the textbook, “the value of human life cannot be measured in a way that’s comparable to some quantity of overall pleasure or happiness, because they are irreducibly different kinds of value” Thames, (2018).



Thames, B. (2018). How should one live? An introduction to ethics and moral reasoning (3rd ed.). Bridgepoint Education.

Mill, J. S. (2008). Utilitarianism (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.). In J. Bennett (Ed. & Rev.), Early Modern Philosophy. Retrieved from http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/mill1863.pdf (Original work published 1863)

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