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Moral Luxuries Essay

1277 words - 6 pages

Monica Baker
Instructor Elgersma
Philosophy 103 Section 07
26 April 2014
Moral Luxuries
Opinions are inevitable when discussing any topic and they can change throughout a discussion depending on the person. However, definitions cannot change and are set in stone. Philosophies are just like definitions, the ideas are set in stone and each philosopher has made it their own. The idea of morality that embodies most philosophies is trickier and is a mix of both a definition and opinion. No matter what the definition is, one persons’ opinion could interpret that definition in many different ways. Trying to establish the morality of an action is even trickier than the idea of morality itself. ...view middle of the document...

This is the view that we ought to act for the sake of pleasure. In laments terms, John Stuart Mill believes that the end is pleasure and happiness equals pleasure.
To begin analyzing the question of the morality of expending resources on luxuries from the standpoint of John Stuart Mills, you have to take utilitarianism in its broadest sense and then break it down from there. In its broadest form, the utilitarian philosophy is a specific form of consequentialism; focusing on the consequence of the act to determine the morality of that said act. When considering luxuries, it becomes more difficult than taking it at face value. You have to consider different levels of class and what resources are essential for surviving for each of the different classes.
If someone in the upper class buys a high end suit, it would be considered a luxury but in the eyes of Mill, it would be morally justifiable because it promotes happiness and does not have any negative consequences. The action does not harm anyone and it was done for the sake of pleasure. The suit was also bought to keep up an image that is required for certain businesses and if you do not adhere to the image you could lose your job which would produce the reverse of happiness.
Narrowing utilitarianism down a little bit, you have both act-utilitarianism and rule-utilitarianism. You can use the same example of the high end suit to show how Mill would find the expenditure of resources on luxuries would be morally justifiable by both act and rule utilitarianism. For act-utilitarianism, the reasoning is very similar to that of utilitarianism in its broadest form. The consequences of the action, buying the suit, are evaluated by the principle of utility. Meaning, acts are right as they promote happiness and wrong as they do the opposite. Buying the suit is promoting the happiness of the person and the business as a whole by keeping up the image and allowing for the survival of both the business and all of its employees.
For rule-utilitarianism, the act would be considered morally justifiable because it was evaluated based on rules after the rules had been established on the principle of utility. When the person bought the high end suit, he was following suit with the rules and or code of conduct of the business. If you do not dress correctly, you could lose your job because you would not be following the code of conduct that you agreed to when joining the company. Losing your job would produce the reverse of happiness, so it was morally correct to buy the high end suit instead of using resources to provide other persons with the necessities of life.
When you break down Mill’s utilitarianism even more, you get to the fact that Mill was also an ethical...

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