Utilitarianism ignores the separateness of persons. Rights theories ignore the connectedness of persons. Discuss
Utilitarianism ignores the separateness of persons. Rights theories ignore the connectedness of persons. Discuss, with reference to two or more case studies discussed in the module. case studies are Doping in the sport cycling and the case of Poppi Worthington.
Student guidance notes on essay title : The first sentence refers to a
standard objection to utilitarianism or consequentialism. As John Rawls puts in A Theory of
Justice (1971, p. 27), Utilitarianism does not take seriously the distinction between persons,
because it is concerned with the aggregate happiness and suffering produced by a decision.
This can lead to one person having to suffer in order to make others better off well-known
examples are killing a person whose organs will save several lives, or punishing an innocent
scapegoat to prevent a riot. The second sentence summarises a view of liberal rights theories
that is often held by exponents of an ethic of care (including some feminist theorists). Rights
theories, it is said, are so preoccupied with separateness of each individual that they neglect
the extent to which we all depend upon caring relationships.
You might want to take one case study to illustrate the rights v. care debate and another to
illustrate the rights v. utilitarianism debate; or you might think that both debates are relevant
to one or more of the case studies examined. Either way you should try to work towards some
coherent conclusion that brings the three perspectives together. For example you might argue
that rights theories can be convincingly defended against both utilitarian and care-ethics
objections; or that care ethics and utilitarianism have important points in common (such as the
importance of empathy and of weighing the consequences of specific actions) which rights