Tuesday, March 10, 2009


“Why was Utilitarianism regarded as a subversive theory? What does utilitarianism propose social response to crime should be? Why? Do you agree? What is your moral perspective on the current penal system in the United States?”

The idea of utilitarianism is that the morality of actions is determinable by the amount of happiness and unhappiness they create, taking in account all the people affected, and counting them all equally. The right/moral action is that which bring the most overall happiness, greatest good for the greatest number of people. It is sort of a reductive approach to ethics where the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome. It was regarded as a subversive theory to law and order because for an example if a man had been known to be a criminal to underground society however could not be found guilty of the charge because the witness was killed, the utilitarian might say well the greatest good for the community is to lock him up and throw away the key, however law and order say that he is innocent until proven guilty and therefore should be free. Utilitarianism could be seen as a justification for a way around the law.

A utilitarian would propose that the social response to crime would be one that only justifies punishment if it benefits the greater society, such as the only time punishment like incarceration would be moral is if it is used to prevent future crime which would have to be greater than the harm it would cause to the individual himself. It has to be a punishment that ends up having the most value as well because in order for it to be the greatest good it would have to cause the least amount of misery. They believe this because it seems like the most pragmatic solution to crime. I agree that it does seem like the best solution to imprison and rehabilitate the individual who committed the crime however some might disagree and say it hasn’t been the best solution because of the product of prisons.  However that is because we don’t live in a society that follows completely a utilitarian rule. A lot of people that are being incorrectly imprisoned and a majority of criminals are not being probably rehabilitated so that they can go on to lead healthy lives. The justice system just does not work however it is the greatest good for the society because we cannot have crimes continuing to be committed.

My view on the penal system currently in the U.S. is upsetting I think a lot of Americans feel that they are not cause over the system and cannot help change it and help it become a better place for criminals to rehabilitate themselves rather than a place of further chaos. Because I am a Scientologist I believe that Criminon which means no crime is the best solution. It is a nonprofit that looks to address the causes of criminality and restore the criminal’s self-respect through drug detoxification, education, and common sense programs. Criminon says “By making them responsible for their actions, people under the Criminal Justice system can become ethical and productive citizens.” I think it is wrong to allow the prisons to continue to be in the state of chaos and continued criminality that they are and the only way I feel cause of this current situation is to donate to Criminon which is in over 35 countries. It is a slow step but it is definitely moving in the right direction which is to help the penal system. It has to get to the point where when we send someone to prison we actually say with confidence that it will rehabilite the criminal so that they can eventually lead a healthy life.

This is where I disagree with a utilitarian, you cannot say something is moral just because it is the greatest good for the greatest number of people, such as the idea of sending someone to prison, you can say that it is moral to send someone to a facility where they have a high rate of returning for another criminal activity in the future. Sending a criminal to a facility where it is often joked about in public media that they are raped and mentally abused. You cannot say that is moral because it is the greatest good for the greatest number of people because it isn’t no matter how much they justify it.

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