As part of my Firm Element CE classes this year I've been going through a course on morality theory. As I read I shake my head how each page relates to the past 10 months. Then I get to the section on "Utilitarianism" and read the following. Uncanny.
Problems with Utilitarianism
The most important problem facing utilitarians is the charge that their theory is not compatible with the values that intention-based moral theories incorporate very well: dignity, rights, and respect. For example, utilitarians justify punishment of criminals because it prevents other crimes, but this uses the criminal as a means only to an end, namely crime prevention. It does not grant the criminal the respect and dignity that person is due as a human being. Opponents of utilitarianism, including Kant, argue that punishing a criminal because you are seeking retribution is to treat the criminal with dignity and respect.
More dramatically, you can imagine a case where it would calm the public and maximize happiness to arrest, charge, and punish an innocent person. Perhaps the innocent person has no family, friends, or legal support, and the public is in a frenzy over a spree of unsolved violent crimes. Although the action of framing an innocent person, would maximize happiness, the basic rights that people have in this country cannot be violated on the grounds that such violation is a means to the happiness of others.
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