This week we studied Utilitarian Ethics ( HIstory found at the Link). Basically, a Utilitarian wants the greatest utility for the greatest amount of people. This is such a basic definition that it does not do justice to the true Utilitarian. The Consequentialist determines their ethical decisions based on the consequences of a given action. An example is the organ donor dying in the hospital. Should we turn off the machine, harvest the organs, and save many lives? Or should we keep him on life support and only (possibly) save him? A consequetionist will say, “Harvest the organs. The greatest utility (aka good) for the greatest amount of people will be met.”
I went in fully prepared to teach the class a certain way and then (while staring off into the floor) said, “You know what? We are going to change it up a bit today.” All the students who were present looked at me a little quizzically and then waited for this grand idea they thought I had. I was facing 2 problems in my morning class.
Problem # 1
- The Ma’ Island had done well as a group week 1, but week 2 two additional new students were added to the group. These two new people drowned out the voices of the “original” Ma Island inhabitants. A new student arrived wh seemed quiet so I added her to this group. So, three quieter students could work out the problems better than a group with too strong of a voice.
- The Culinary Island was made up of 4 people, 2 quiet, and 2 “leaders.” Week 2 the additional leader joined the group. What I saw week 2 was that the two leaders would get sidetracked arguing who would “lead” and not digging deep into the material. I addressed this issue week 3 by suggesting the group dynamics needed to change and that I needed one leader to start a new island. She was against this idea and said she had been called “overbearing” in the past. I reiterated that she was a leader and that sometimes a group cannot function with 2 leaders because the others get left out. The group wanted to remain together and asked to remain 1 united island. I allowed it- especially since 2 students from the other group never materialized this week and there would have been no one else in this new island.
The morning class progressed and I think they understood the basics of Utilitarian ethics by the end.