There are many different levels and approaches to ethical thinking. In the photo accompanying the course, ???The Effects of Good Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti,??? it depicts a scene of people living happily because they are living harmoniously with the government. When dealing with the different approaches of ethical thinking there is a descriptive approach and a normative approach. In this paper the normative principle will be explained, five normative principle situations relating to the ???Greatest-Happiness Principle??? will be understood, and a critical evaluation of the effectiveness of ???Greatest Happiness Principle??? in a mock society.
According to The Ethical Levels of Discourse, the normative principle is a ???practical moral choices that are based on beliefs and values, which are often deeply held???. The normative principle plays a role in everyone??™s life. Ever since birth each individual is ingrained with a system of values and beliefs based upon their upbringing and environment. The normative principle can take form in a general manner. For example, a normative principle might state that, ???it is wrong to lie,??? but does not go into detail about specific situations. When referring to the normative principle a good way to think about it is metaphorically. For example let??™s pretend a person, named Mike is standing in front of a ???gateway??? only armed with his morals, he decides that no matter what??™s on the other side he knows that he believes in only telling the truth. A person tells him, ???take this document, lie and say your name is Sam, and a lot of cash will be sent to your home.??? Even though Mike knows he needs money to
buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend, he will decline because it goes against his normative principles. Which leads to the next point; how the normative principle relates to the ???Greater-Happiness Principles???.
The ???Greatest-Happiness Principle??? according to Nina Rosenstand this principle is defined as ???choosing a course of action that will maximize happiness and minimize unhappiness for the greatest number of people.??? The first normative principle will be ???Eating free ice-cream from any establishment that sells ice-cream???. Even though it comes across as a principle that is ridiculous it??™s quite a good one, literally. There are very few people who would be against the idea of free ice-cream, unless they are the ones selling the icecream. According to the ???Greatest-Happiness Principle??? the ultimate goal is to maximize happiness for the most amount of people. In essence only the entities of people selling the ice-cream would object to the free ice-cream, but because they are the minority than the goal is achieved.
The next normative principle would be ???Taking from the rich and giving to the poor???. The idea of ???Taking from the rich and giving to the poor,??? has been apart of oral literary history well before the implementation of modern society, with childhood tales like Robin Hood. In a society, when only 1% of society is considered wealthy it would go over quite well. With the state that the American economy is in, most people are struggling trying to pay their bills. Then on the other hand, there are people spending millions of dollars on cars, and jewelry.
The other 99% of society, the maximum amount of people, would be very satisfied with receiving a part of their money.
The next normative principle is speaking your mind in terms of freedom of expression this normative principle would satisfy the normative principle. The reason why it would satisfy the normative principle is because who would not want to express his or hers thoughts without being cut off or censored from someone on the outside.
The next normative principle will be, ???drug testing to receive welfare???. Drug testing to receive welfare would maximize the happiness of most people because only a small percentage of people are on welfare. Also, it will prohibit people who use their welfare money to engage in illegal activities from receiving funds. The main reason is because the welfare fund is subsequently being paid for by people who have jobs, and cannot receive the same benefits. Tax payers who cannot receive the same benefits as those who are unemployed or have low-income situation would be satisfied and content with this normative principle.
The next normative principle will be, ???killing others is wrong???. This normative principle would be classified as satisfying the maximum amount of people. The reason for this is because who would want to be killed for any reason, even if they have done something worthy of being killed over. Even
when people commit horrendous crimes depending on what the crime is people generally believe in giving the person a life sentence as opposed to the death penalty.
In some of the examples provided relating to the normative principle, some are trivial and some are not. For example, the principle relating to icecream is very trivial, but on the other hand the normative principle relating to killing people would be something that is a very significant principle which would play a huge role in terms of governing and keeping the peace in society. Which brings forth the next point, ???Is ratifying principles that make the majority of people happy always necessarily a good thing???
With the principles that have been chosen, the proposed question is, ???Will the principles provided suffice in creating a society where people can live in harmony, like the citizens depicted in the painting, ???The Effects of Good Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti.??? Yes and no depending on who the question is being asked to. There are a lot of people who would be very happy about the free ice-cream but what about those who are selling the ice-cream What happens on days when an establishment decides to charge but according to the set of values and principles that an individual has grown up on, they feel as if they are entitled to free ice-cream and they take the ice-cream. In terms of a situation with killing, that is a very good principle that will play a major role in keeping the happiness levels up within a society. If the principle of not killing
others whenever a person felt they were wronged was not in tact; what if every time a person became angry they killed the person they are having the issue with There would be unrest within the society.
In my opinion, the normative principle is one of the toughest approaches to ethics because, what if you are not in the majority and do not agree with what is being proposed It is always easier to be happy with a rule, when it is in favor of what you are trying to do. What if there were a rule proposed that everyone who has a newborn should dispose of them. The reason why they would dispose of the newborns is because there would be more food for those who are remaining. If you are in the minority of people who have newborns, as opposed to the majority of people who do not have newborns; you would not be excited to go with this ruling. The problem with this principle is, ???What if what makes people happy is morally incorrect??? Even with this statement this issue comes forth is, ???What is deemed as ethical or unethical for one person may be completely contrary to what another person feels is ethical or unethical.???
In conclusion, there are many approaches to ethical thinking. The normative principle is one that is not to be specific but a ???general rule of thumb???. Also, the ???Greatest-Happiness Principle??? is used to try and maximize the most amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people. At the same time it goal is to minimize the most amount of unhappiness for the greatest amount of
people. What I have concluded from this investigation of the normative principle, is doing what makes the maximum amount of people happy, may or may not always be the best call of action; when trying to run a fruitful society.