Utilitarianism and Virtue Ethics | Engineering Ethics

Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that gives the utmost importance to the maximisation of overall well-being for the greater good; Fundamental principle of virtue ethics is that one should act in a way a good person acts. 

Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that gives the utmost importance to the maximization of overall well-being for the greater good. According to this utilitarianism concept, we should produce the most goods for most people equally. This particular concept is called utilitarianism because in that word “utility” means useful.

 

This theory is based on usefulness or utility and thus the name utilitarianism. This theory of utilitarianism has a disadvantage; it causes unjust distributions.

 

Because of this disadvantage, this theory has not captured all the elements of common morality. But despite this disadvantage this a good theory to follow in many cases - especially, in engineering. 

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ESE General Studies Package

Generally speaking from the last year patterns, questions are of two types.

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Our study package for ESE General Studies is designed as per this latest question pattern. 

Types - Rule and Act Utilitarianism

Act–utilitarianism was proposed by a well-known ethicist JS Mill. According to JS Mill, a particular action is right if it is likely to produce the most good for the most people in a given situation, compared with alternative options available.

  • The short term and long term consequences will also matter in this concept.

  • We should be careful when we are using this concept because it can justify wrongdoings.

Rule–utilitarianism was proposed by a famous ethicist Richard Brandt. According to Richard, this concept focuses on a certain set of rules or codes that would produce the most good. There will be no justifications for wrongdoings in this concept

Criteria to determine maximisation

One of the main concepts in utilitarianism is that we should find out the consequence and try to measure it. Some of the criteria we use to determine maximisation is
 

  • Cost-Benefit analysis (CBA)

  • Test of maximizing good consequences

  • Rule and Practice Test

Criteria to determine maximisation

One of the main concepts in utilitarianism is that we should find out the consequence and try to measure it. Some of the criteria we use to determine maximisation is
 

  • Cost-Benefit analysis (CBA)

  • Test of maximizing good consequences

  • Rule and Practice Test

Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA)

Cost-benefit analysis is the most appealing criterion in the engineering profession. It is a course of action whose benefit is greater than the cost. Which means it produces the greatest benefit. In these criteria, we decide a course of action that produces the greatest benefit.

 

The first thing we need to do in this criterion is that we should convert everything into monetary terms and identify all the available options. We should also convert the benefits into monetary terms. And second and the last thing you need to do is select a course of action that produces the greatest benefit


Methods of cost-benefit analysis:

  • Identify all available options

  • Assess costs and benefits in monetary terms.

  • Select the course which produces the greatest benefit.

Test of Maximising Good Consequences

This particular criterion helps us to choose which particular course of action result in more good than any other alternative course of action that is available in the situation.

Rules and Practices Test

In this criterion, we follow the general practices of professionals which promotes the well-being of the public. If there are no applicable practices in history, we can just choose the one which will result in good long term consequences.

Virtue Ethics

Virtue ethics is very simple to understand and the fundamental principle of virtue ethics is that one should act in a way a good person acts. We sometimes call a good person a virtuous person also.

 

Virtues are desirable habits or tendencies in action, commitment, motive, attitude, emotion, ways of reasoning, and ways of relating to others. The opposite of virtue is known as vices. Vices are undesirable habits or tendencies. Virtues are morally desirable habits and vices are morally undesirable habits.
 

Core virtues:
 

  • Wisdom {creativity, open-mindedness, perspective}

  • Courage {bravery, persistence, vigor or energy}

  • Humanity {love, and kindness}

  • Justice {citizenship, fairness, leadership}

  • Temperance {modesty, self-control}

  • Transcendence {appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, spirituality}

 

There is also another virtue called professional virtues which are the compassion and loyalty we show toward our patients or clients.

 

There are some problems in virtue ethics and this is because of something called ethical relativity which means different people will think differently and will have a different perspective.

APSEd ESE General Studies Package

Generally speaking from the last year patterns, questions are of two types.

1. General understanding of topics

 

For example, they ask questions like - Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is aimed to help ________. 
If you have understood EIA, this question can be answered easily.

 

2. Specific questions/ terms 

 

For example, they ask questions like - The ‘Minamata Tragedy’ was caused by the eating of fish growing in the Minamata Bay contaminated with _________. 
This kind of questions needs extra reading after understanding the topics.

 

Our study package for ESE General Studies is designed as per this latest question pattern. 

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