Capella University Universal Health Care Utilitarianism Ethics Discussion

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Discussion 1

Considering and responding some possible objections to Utilitarian reasoning.


  • Engage with the text:

Using at least one quote from one of the required readings, briefly explain the ethical theory of utilitarianism. 

Ethical theories have core ideas, principles, and assumptions.  For any ethical theory, there are objections that some may raise against those core ideas, principles, and assumptions.  Several objections to utilitarianism are discussed in Chapter 3, Section 3.5 of the textbook, and John Stuart Mill (2017/1863) discusses 8 objections in Utilitarianism (in Chapter 3 of the textbook, the text can be found under “Primary Sources” and the objections under the section, “Objections and Replies”).  Are any of them justified, or not?

The prompt asks several detailed questions here, so please read carefully:

Choose one of these objections and briefly explain the core idea in your own words. 

  • Reflect on the theory:

Present a scenario (real or imagined) in which you would make one choice if you were committed to employing utilitarian precepts, but someone who finds this objection compelling would probably make a different choice.  (In other words, put yourself in the mind of someone making that objection, and you’re imagining a scenario in which that person would likely make a certain ethical judgment, but showing how you would make a different judgment by employing utilitarian reasoning.)

2 Reflect on yourself:

In your view, does considering this situation strengthen and support the objection (thus showing a weakness to utilitarian theory), or does it help show the strength of utilitarian theory, by showing how an application of utilitarian reasoning could respond to that objection? 

Discussion 2

This week, you will consider how utilitarianism applies to a controversy, dilemma, event, or scenario selected by your instructor. It is a chance for you to discuss together the ethical issues and questions that it raises, your own response to those, and whether that aligns with or does not align with a utilitarian approach. The aim is not to simply assert your own view or to denigrate other views, but to identify, evaluate, and discuss the moral reasoning involved in addressing the chosen issue.


This week, we will consider how utilitarianism applies to Universal Health Care.

Most major nations in the world have some sort of universal health care system.  The United States does not.  Consider this issue while applying your own utilitarian reasoning to the problems that a health care system may need to address.  The current situation of pandemic and massive job loss can certainly also factor into your discussion.  See the links below from the World health organization and the United States’ most prominent official to promote universal health care, Bernie Sanders.

For a focal example to consider, please read: (Links to an external site.)

Additionally, check out the World Health Organization section on the subject: (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.


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