The brave yet tragic story of the Flight 93 is one that is known by many. Flight 93 simply refers to a passenger flight of the United Airlines which was allegedly hijacked by terrorists as one of the planned 11th September, 2001 terrorism attacks. However, in trying to regain control of the flight, the plane crashed in a field close to Pennsylvania, Shanksville.
It is believed that the 4 terrorists in the plane targeted the United States Capitol, which would have resulted in many deaths. Many debates have since then come up about the moral action and theory which would be best adopted by the military; whether to sacrifice the passengers by shooting down the plane and avoid many casualties or just let the plane crash at the capital, as some moralists would argue. The discussions below give a justification of the action that would be encouraged by those who ascribe to the beliefs of utilitarianism.
Body: Utilitarianism argument on the shooting down of Flight 93
Essentially, in utilitarianism a person’s actions are majorly guided by the consequences of his/her actions. Utilitarianism purports that if the consequences of an action are good, then it is morally right to do it while if the consequences are bad, it is wrong to do it.
This greatly erodes one’s liberty to think or act freely since he/she only focuses on something that has a good ending rather than looking at it circumspectly and making a liberal decision. As a result, some things may appear wrong for a person but they may be right for another one.
Considering the huge negative repercussions of Flight 93 in terms of loss of lives, destruction of invaluable resources and a series of other harmful consequences; as a utilitarian, one would argue that shooting the plane would have been a justifiable moral action to take based on the following reasons.
Firstly, utilitarianism advocates for the putting of rational thought in front of emotional thinking. So in spite of shooting down the plane and killing some people in it being something that would emotionally haunt us; doing it and saving millions of others would be quite acceptable.
Secondly, utilitarianism emphasizes on the realization of greatest good or happiness of as many people as possible. Consequently, shooting down the plane for the sake of many families and the lots of losses realized from Flight 93 would be morally pardonable.
Thirdly, in the case where we cannot make as many people as we can happy, utilitarianism recommends that “we can at least do our best to limit their misery” and this is exactly what shooting down the plane would do. The countless deaths, million-dollar destructions, millions of victims and the series of wars that resulted from it would all be avoided. Of course shooting down of Flight 93 would also impact negatively on its victims; but compared to the aftermath of 9/11, it would be the logical and therefore a moral thing to do.
If one of the people on the flight was someone who I dearly cherish, then as an utilitarian, I would probably argue against shooting the plane based on the fact that my happiness comes first before other people’s happiness. As a rejoinder, it is worth noting that since utilitarianism gives a lot of freedom in arguing about right or wrong, caution should be taken so that we do not end up hurting many people just to gratify our selfish interests.