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Utilitarian Ethics: Shooting Down Flight 93 Essay

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Updated: Mar 30th, 2020

The decision to shoot down Flight 93 may appear to be cruel or even heartless, but it might have been the only way to save many other lives that could have been taken by terrorists. Under such circumstances, public leaders should focus on the minimization of harm that can be done by the enemy attack.

Moreover, under such circumstances, the consequence of the action is the main criterion according to which the morality of a person’s behavior can be evaluated. In particular, policy-makers should find ways of protecting the lives of people who may be imperiled by the crashing plane. In turn, the decision to shoot down the aircraft is the only way to achieve this goal.

Certainly, one should not overlook the critique of the utilitarian approach, which can be used to justify the most atrocious actions that in no way contribute to the so-called greater good (Rosenstadt, 2012). Nevertheless, at the time of crisis, the main decision-makers regard this ethical framework as the only possible solution.

Certainly, the passengers of a captured airplane may expect that the government will try to save them by negotiating with the terrorists. Nevertheless, this decision may endanger the lives of many innocent people (Ellerton, 2011). This is one of the pitfalls that should be avoided. Therefore, the use of utilitarian principles is the most relevant approach.

However, this example does not prove that utilitarian ethics should always be used. The problem is that this approach can lead to the dehumanization of an individual who may be used only as a means for achieving a certain goal (Butler, 2002, p. 1). For instance, some politicians may argue that it is necessary to arrest people without a warrant because such actions can protect the country from external threats. Nevertheless, they may adopt this policy only to strengthen their authority or subdue their opponents. So, they may not necessarily be concerned with the welfare of others.

Therefore, the main task is to determine when utilitarian ethics can be acceptable. This argument is particularly important when one speaks about the behavior of policy-makers who are responsible for improving the welfare of the community and safeguarding the rights of every citizen. So, they should be rather careful while using the principles of utilitarian ethics because the excessive focus on objectives and consequences can deprive a person of his/her integrity. These are the main aspects that can be identified.

Reference List

Butler, P. (2002). Foreword: Terrorism and Utilitarianism: Lessons from and for Criminal Law. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 93(1), 1-23.

Ellerton, P. (2011). . Web.

Rosenstadt, N. (2012). The Moral of the Story: An Introduction to Ethics. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

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