Monday, November 7, 2011





You are the environmental compliance manager for a profitable, small plastics manufacturing companyhere in Maryland. Previous reports indicate that the factory’s emission levels are just within the legal limits. Your office has conducted a new scientific study that predicts the next report will show that the emissions levels have surpassed the legal limit. You have some choices to make. The new technology to control emission levels is expensive and could cost your corporation a lot of money – thus resulting in some job cuts for some of your coworkers. One of your staff members said you should fudge the report until a cheaper alternative is found within the next year.

At first I thought I was misunderstanding the concept, but in a rare double whammy both an Act Utilitarian and a Rule Utilitarian would follow the laws connected to the manufacturing company and by default would have the job cuts happen as a result. While Act Utilitarian's firmly believe that the end result in any scenario should be the only thing people should be concerned with, Rule Utilitarian's believe rules and guidelines by design will result in the greatest happiness. This case scenario has created a type of middle ground where both groups are able to agree amicably even though it's for entirely different reasons.

Act Utilitarian's believe that the right action will create the greatest amount of happiness. They also are just as willing to obey a law as they are to abandon one . In a way I see this as a type of twisted " ends justify the means" type of belief where anything goes if it means keeping a lot of people happy. In this scenario alone however, we would still see the Act Utilitarian acting rather noble. Since we don't know how many people work at the company, who is in the surrounding area, and have no guarantees of costs, our Act Utilitarian would have to run strictly off the idea that his company (while growing in size) is still very small when considering the enormity of the world. Our Act Utilitarian would immediately send out the report , and actively push his company to begin buying the equipment to ensure the rest of the world is not being harmed any further by their daily operations.

Earlier I sounded harsh towards Act Utilitarian's and with good reason, their entire belief is based on size, and while in this situation they would choose a moral high ground in other situations they could just as easily choose something more unethical depending on how many people were involved. Their entire system reminds me of the scales you sometimes see in court houses or even in myths. There is no real individualism or personal character in their beliefs. In all honesty I see them as only siding with the bigger party.

Rule Utilitarian's believe that happiness is at its greatest when laws, rules, and even faiths are followed strictly with absolutely no gray area. Much like we discussed in class people like this tend be heavily religious, and in particular a strict belief in following laws is in the backbone of the Christian faith. To people like this any breaking of a rule or belief is nothing less than a betrayal of them, the society, and most importantly themselves. Even though the company could lose jobs, could cost him his own job, ruin their entire local economy, the rules will be followed no matter what, and we have no choice but to follow them. The guy would also probably push hard to make sure the equipment was in and running the instant those laws were revised.

Again I'm being incredibly harsh on them for ironically similar reasons. Much like the Act Utilitarian's, Rule Utilitarian's will most likely be conforming to society, in a way they have no real individualism, or at least would be willing to stomp on that individualism if a law demanded it. They don't think about their actions in any way, since they leave all the thinking to others that are far more qualified. Someone strictly following these beliefs would most likely never get past the middle class, so most likely people like this would be forever trapped searching for their happiness. Unless of course the middle class is their ultimate happiness, and they can find contempt in the mundane.

While the concepts in theory are great for society they really don't exist in the individuals of the society. Over the last week I actually tried searching for people, or even characters in games and other media that purely followed the concept. Someone that's able to go such lengths for their beliefs would easily be considered a Hero in some aspect, but what's truly ironic about most heroes is that they always have a folly, or rather some instance where they will betray their own beliefs. In the end I found three characters, Emiya Shirou, Emiya Kiritsugu ( both from the fate stay night franchise), and Adam Jenson ( Main Character of Deus Ex Human Revolution) that were able to fit the bill in some aspect, but every one of these individuals have a horribly damaged persona due to near death experiences. I personally find it ironic that the people we consider to be heroes in the present day are always considered to be in every way ordinary, while the ones we create to take on these persona's that believe in doing whatever it takes if it means reaching happiness are purely fictional. Even though many of the characters present in the fate stay night franchise did exist at times, they were always made to look and act human. Emiya Kiritsugu was the only one really used as a type of golden rule.

Kiritsugu's character believed firmly in what can be seen as Act Utilitarianism. His character throughout several books and an anime has always stated " if killing one means happiness, peace, and safety for millions.... then I'll be the one to pull the trigger." This week the creator really pushed the characters identity home actually, to take out one very dangerous individual in a war, he first located the man's building, got all of the innocent bystanders out via fire alarm, and while the target waited at the top of the building for Kiritsugu to enter the building and begin the fight; Kiritsugu had the building blown up. Kiritsugu's character over and over again will do such ridiculous things to guarantee the safety for millions. Other characters in the franchise have stated Kiritsugu would go into a battle zone if it meant ending a war faster and limiting the casualties. By the time the Fate stay night franchise has started , the man has already acknowledged the idea that he is soon going to die. Not from some illness or accident, but purely because of his own beliefs. To make things even worse everyone that knows him personally and confesses to love him has accepted that this is definitely his fate without fear, and even acknowledge that they are mostly going with him.

His son Shirou is even more of a problem, Shirou constantly goes to any length to help others out of a desire to be like his dad " the man that saved millions" while at the same time dealing with unending survivor's guilt that leaves him unable to seek happiness for himself. To him, others peoples happiness means happiness for himself, is another stepping stone to him becoming his father, and ultimately terrifies everyone that knows him personally. Shirou's void less personality actually has 3 possible routes of growth between the games and books. The first path through consultation of his friends leads to Shirou choosing one person over a thousand. A complete reversal of the desires and dreams he shared with his father, the second path through a friends departure leads to a more stabilized existence where Shirou has desires even though he still wishes to help people, and the third path leads to Shirou sacrificing himself to save millions. Becoming the hero he always dreamed and clearly serving as a warning from the creator of the franchise.

The last character Adam Jenson is by far the most entertaining. Adam Jenson was launched through a wall and suffered damage to about 70% of his body, and had it all replaced with advanced robotics. Every choice, opinion, and feeling stated afterword's is up to player to decide. In a way he is a perfect blank slate , He can choose to hate these robotics, hate corporations for placing him in this situation, fall into endless grief over what has happened to his friends, or pick himself up and see just how much further he can actually go. One of the most entertaining side routes has Jensen following all laws of society like a Rule Utilitarian, and constantly this means Jensen is fighting individuals with highly illegal gear and accessories, while Jensen has far weaker weaponry and abilities. Over and over again Jensen's morality and beliefs are being pushed because rich corporations control the world, they make the laws, they break the laws, and enforce the laws on anyone that gets in the way. Towards the end Jensen has only 3 possible choices to finish the game. One method involves destroying all evidence of anything that took place, another involves blaming an innocent party with malicious beliefs, and the third is once again self sacrifice to maintain the broken legal system. Guess which one actually has Jensen following the rules?

All three characters were designed specifically to inspire people, but their own creators firmly believe they cannot exist in such a form, and I think that's the biggest problem I have with the whole philosophy. I believe in balance, every person inside humanity needs to choose for themselves what they in turn believe in. We cannot just blindly follow a popular party or just follow a culture, and expect to find our happiness along the way. Even our media creators go to ridiculous lengths to prove how dangerous and all encompassing such a belief can actually be. Sure one day you could be helping some poor kid across the street, but the very next day you would have to be willing to drop a building with c4 due to your own beliefs, and that is just not going to happen. In the manufacturing scenario mentioned earlier it's probably a really good idea to follow the guidelines , you still need to decide for yourself if those guidelines are just, correct, and worth the sacrifices that are in result. I firmly reject the idea that only one or the other is all that's needed in order to find happiness. Crazy thinking's like that can lead to a lot of people being killed, and there's no true happiness waiting for the masses at the end of that.






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