The Utilitarian Approach to Abortion
The Utilitarian Approach to Abortion
The principle of utilitarianism asserts that the morally correct action within any given situation comprises the one, which creates the largest balance of gains over harms for every affected individual. In simple terms, the utilitarian approach advocates for the satisfaction and derivation of the common good. Many individuals apply this form of reasoning on a daily basis. When told to explain the reason for moral duty in terms of an action, most persons point towards the good aspect that will result from the course of action or the damage it will avert. It is sensible to apply the utilitarian approach in the resolution of current moral issues that affect the society given that it provides a clear-cut approach for choosing the morally proper action for a situation. In this respect, applying the utilitarian approach while including the Felicific Calculus concerning the issue of abortion may determine if it is intrinsically wrong or right.
The utilitarian approach towards the issue is practical since it weighs the right or wrong part of abortion based on whether it creates the greatest gain for the majority (Pojman 102). In most situations, utilitarianism considers Jeremy Bentham’s Felicific Calculus, which measures the pain and pleasure produced by the moral actions available. The respective theory chiefly concentrates on pain and pleasure as well as the capability to maximize the latter over the former (pleasure over pain). The Calculus also accentuates the ends of the respective issue over the means. In this respect, it arbitrates the correctness of abortion by the result it produces, which comprises the plausible pleasure (Eggleston and Miller 45). In its entirety, the inclusion of Bentham’s Felicific Calculus to the utilitarian approach in relation to the issue allows consideration of the consequences that arise from abortion. For example, by considering women who have been sexually assaulted, the victims may bear the choice of whether to go through with abortion or conception since they may or may not be able to live with the consequences of the respective act.
Alternately, considering the consequences of abortion positions the applied utilitarian approach as a measure for justifying a possibly malevolent action since it satisfies the tenet of delivering the greater good to the majority. For example, this may take place if the procedure is done on a fetus with the reason being that it did not fit to the family’s current lifestyle. Such reasons may influence people to deem the act as an immoral alternative. However, since it satisfies the greatest number, then the action is morally right (Pojman 103). As such, the respective approach may be perceived as one that does not secure the minority’s interests. Nonetheless, determining whether abortion is morally right or wrong via the Bentham’s Calculus may require gauging the pleasure and pain produced by the moral actions available in order to find the best possible alternative. It may be fundamental in respect to the issue aforementioned since it incorporates seven factors such as the pleasure’s intensity, the pleasure’s duration, its extent of relief, the richness, the purity, and lastly, the pleasure’s extent in respect to the amount of persons affected by it (Bentham 30).
To this end, the incorporation of the Felicific Calculus to the utilitarian approach in respect to the abortion positions the respective issue as morally correct. Accordingly, the action that generates the best possible repercussions comprises the morally right alternative to follow. Based on the seven factors of Bentham’s theory, it is evident that the act of abortion constitutes the best possible action. The use of the respective theory promotes compassion and pleasure for every party involved by considering the feelings of the fetus as well as those of the father and the mother. Since the motives for the act are not categorized as bad or good, the act of abortion may be carried out at the convenience of the involved persons. Lastly, it may actually be hard to forecast the repercussions that arise from the issue. In this respect, abortion may be a morally correct alternative based on the application of Bentham’s utilitarian approach.
Bentham, Jeremy. An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. New York: Hafner Pub. Co, 1948. Print.
Eggleston, Ben, and Dale E. Miller. The Cambridge Companion to Utilitarianism. Cambridge, 2014. Print.
Pojman, Louis P. Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong. Belmont: Wadsworth Pub. Co, 2012. Print.
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