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Running Head: UTILITARIANISM IN THE MOVIE EYE IN THE SKY 1

Ethics

Nicholas Escobar
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UTILITARIANISM IN THE MOVIE EYE IN THE SKY

John Stuart Mill an economist of the 19th century and Jeremy Bentham, an English

philosopher of the 18th century base on the ethical, normative state that action gets considered to

be justifiable or instead right if it intends happiness. The talked about happiness includes not

only the action doer but as well as any person who can be affected by the action (Rawls, 2011).

The stated theory is a clearly in contrast to egoism that suggests that an individual can act based

on personal interest even if it means at the expense of others or ignoring any consequences of the

action. Utilitarianism is among the world known persuasive as well as a powerful approach to

normative ethics when it comes to the history of philosophy. Until the period of 19th century,

that’s when utilitarianism got articulated and also, throughout ethical theory history proto-

utilitarian is mostly discerned (Rawls, 2011). Although there are various aspects of the subject in

question, generally Utilitarianism is a theory that dictates, something is noted as good or rather

moral if its results show a significant amount of good or positive impact on the most significant

number of people. There exist various ways to support this particular claim (Rawls, 2011). For

instance, one of the outstanding factors is that utilitarianism theory displays a form of

consequentialism: which is the moral action gets perceived through the final consequences

created. Relevant consequences also play a role in distinguishing between utilitarianism and

egoism. A utilitarian will think or base view as one seeks to give the maximum good, which

refers to putting into consideration the wellbeing of others as well as your own. It is also

important to note that utilitarianism can get identified by agent-neutrality and impartially

(Mackinnon, 2018). The phrase ‘maximize the good’ refer to the fact that the best feel and to

achieve maximum happiness the everyone benefits need to be equal. It should not be peculiar to
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oneself but the reason someone is promoting the overall happiness should be the same reason as

to why other people are also promoting.

In the 2015 movie Eye in the Sky, the ethics of modern warfare has been highlighted

especially in the matters of using devices that are not manned like drones. In the movie, the US

and British governments used drones to recognize, track and plan targeted attacks to suspected

terrorists. The senior military officials responsible for this operation were able to apply

quantitative techniques to do risk assessment to minimize scenarios where civilians were

endangered hence able to reduce civilian casualty. The Unitarianism concept came in the

limelight when the intelligence for Britain and Kenya learned that one American and two Britons

radicalized Islamic militants are having a meeting with the Al-Shabaab leaders in Nairobi. With

the help of Kenyan troops on the ground and the drone, they found a plan to confine the group.

With the help of the drone, it was revealed that the militants are preparing for an attack by

arming themselves with suicide vests. Helen Mirren is portraying as the in charge British

military leader requests for permission to use a missile strike on the house. She receives ago

ahead from both American and British intelligence to kill their own. Moments before the missile

attack, an eight-year-old girl starts selling bread outside the targeted house. A debate arose as to

whether they should carry on the mission or not as a fear of collateral damage arose. Among the

points of views suggested by the British military is the utilitarianism concept, for instance, the

willingness to sacrifice the life of the innocent small girl to save many others. Self-interested

soldiers and politicians are against it as they fear they will be held accountable for any outcomes

(Borins, 2016).

Position:
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Considering the Eye in The Sky movie, various possible arguments can arise in support

of multiple theories in which one wants to associate. Deducing from the above film my argument

in favor of utilitarianism concept, by saying that preventing many people from dying at the

expense of one life is morally permissible and does not go against any virtue of justice (Amartya,

2017).

Argument:

1). If taking a person's privilege to life produces or nurtures the virtue of justice, for

instance, saving the lives of many others then claiming their lives is morally permissible.

2.) Killing a lot of people at the expense of one life does not produce or nurture the virtue

of justice.

3.) Therefore, taking one life to allow a big number to live is morally permissible.

4.) Therefore, denying someone the privilege to get married is not morally permissible.

Validity and definitions:

The fact that the validity of the argument discussed above conforms to the rule of logic,

for instance, the death of one civilian is accepted hence the lives of the majority is antecedent.

The terms used in defining the argument include morally permissible which is usually used to

refer to an action that is not accepted or recognized in the society. Hence if an action is rendered

not morally permissible, it will be against the norms of the society to do it as they view it as not

being the "right" thing to do. The virtue that entails giving a person what belongs to them, being

fair and respecting their rights is what is referred to as justice. Although the theory aims to
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protect the lives of many, it fails to protect the rights of an individual whose life is at stake

(Amartya, 2017). Finally, a privilege is the primary rights stipulated in a country's constitution

that are guaranteed to its people. In our case, all people have been given the right to live in the

constitution.

Justification of Premise 1:

When testing the morality of the argument discussed above, we will study each premise

in detail. According to premise one tries to explain the virtue theory, for instance losing the lives

of many people to save the life of an individual is not morally acceptable. Virtue ethics do not

emphasize actions but rather, what this action says about one's character unlike other theories

such as deontology which focuses on duties and consequentialism which focuses on

consequences of actions. In our case, the one who sacrifices their own lives for the sake of others

is viewed as society heroes. Virtues are desirable features in a moral individual and actions do

not determine factors of morality as it involves more than the selected action (Cahn & Markie,

2009).

Justification of Premise 2:

Premise two stands and refers to justice virtues, which dictates fairness and equality.

Hence with that in mind, denying an individual life to save a large group of people do not

produce the virtue of justice. The individual whose life is at stake also has equal rights to life and

denying him this right goes against equality as they are not given the same chance to live like

their counterparts.

Objection to Premise 1:
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There exist strong points in opposing and proposing taking the life an individual to save

more people. Some view this argument as problematic due to the policies stipulated by the virtue

theory. According to premise one, any action promoting a virtue is morally accepted but do not

specify how to achieve such a virtue. The theory used in the first premise assumes that one will

automatically know how to be virtuous and therefore do not provide a standard guideline for

people to follow (Cahn & Markie, 2009). Individuals should be presented in the first premise,

merely assumes that one will automatically know how to be virtuous, but instead, they depend on

the justice theory in situations where one is denied their rights.

Objection to Premise 2:

Now getting back to the second premise, the assertion displayed seem not to take

adequate attention that there may be existing individuals who are only interested in taking

advantage of the death of one person. The only way such a situation can be considered as

upholding the values of the society virtues is when people are allowed to die for all wrong

reasons. Allowing individuals to die without their consent is against their rights and justice, and

this kind of actions do not nurture the virtue of justice by ensuring an individual's right to life is

not infringed. People do have rights, and no one is justified to take another person’s life unless

the situation is necessary and there were no other options other than death.

Rebuttal/Answer to Objection to Premise 1:

Premise one primary objection is that the virtue theory does not provide the means by

which individuals should achieve their virtues. According to Aristotle's golden mean, this is not

true as it serves as guidance. A virtue is achieved when an action is responsive to a certain


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situation at the right time in the right manner and the right amount. One must be able to identify

the midpoint between two extremes in order to discover the right amount. The virtue theory helps

individuals to follow the theory of justice as it helps the society to determine what qualifies as an

overruling explanation and making the society a hub for discrimination and inequality (Amartya,

2017).

Rebuttal/Answer to Objection to Premise 2:

In the second premise, the objection made suggests that the rights of individuals to live

should be weighed according to the rights of the society. An individual who is denied the right to

live usually loses a lot more than just their surroundings. The benefits of the society should never

be at the expense of the right of individuals but rather the opposite.

Conclusion:

It is clear that unlike ethical theories which state that action gets justified whether it is

good or bad, moral or immoral by analyzing the intentions of the agent in question. On the other

hand, utilitarian states that an action is not justified by the intentions of the agent but with the

best possible outcome even if it means by the expense of other people or they are bad intended.

Relating the above theory to the 2015 movie Eye in The Sky, it would be against all ethical

theory to take one life trying to save many lives. The senior military officials responsible for this

operation were able to apply quantitative techniques to do risk assessment to minimize scenarios

where civilians were endangered hence able to reduce civilian casualty. A debate arose as to

whether they should carry on the mission or not as a fear of collateral damage arose. But under

the utilitarian theory the action is justified and seen as it brought the best consequence possible.
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Virtue ethics do not emphasize actions but rather, what this action says about one's character

unlike other theories such as deontology which focuses on duties and consequentialism which

focuses on consequences of actions. However, the society should never put itself in position in

which it is benefiting at one individual expense but rather suggest the opposite of the situation.

Therefore, we have seen that the theory on utilitarianism is not always, for instance, taking the

life of an individual does not always guarantee that the lives of other people will be saved.

Denying an individual their right to live will only bust result to inequality in the society.
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References

Amartya, S. E. N. (2017). What do we want from a theory of justice? In Theories of Justice (pp.

27-50). Routledge.

Borins, S. (2016, April 4). Eye in the Sky: Utilitarianism in a High-Tech War. Retrieved from

http://www.sandfordborins.com/2016/04/04/eye-in-the-sky-utilitarianism-in-a-high-tech-

war/

Cahn, S. M., & Markie, P. (2009). Ethics: History, theory, and contemporary issues.

MacKinnon, B., & Fiala, A. (2018). Ethics: Theory and contemporary issues.

Mill, J. S. (2016). Utilitarianism. In Seven Masterpieces of Philosophy (pp. 337-383). Routledge.

Rawls, P. J. (2011). A Theory of Justice: Original Edition. Belknap Press. (Rawls