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This paper will discuss the conflicts between the utilitarian ethical theory and the ethical theory put forth by Aldo Leopold known as The Land Ethic The question chosen to express the philosophical differences central in the two theories is what should we do with flood plain land use The land use issue in general requires careful consideration The flood plain land use issue illustrates the utilitarian and Aldo Leopolds Land Ethic philosophical conflicts Utilitarianism derives from 1 Actions which result in the greatest good for the greatest number of people 2 Promote efficiency by comparing actions 3 of Our judgments are universalizations Van DeVeer 1998 An example is the laws passed that try to please everyone which result in confusion The first doctrine evaluates options based on whether their consequences produce happiness or unhappiness That is we judge what actions give us the most happiness with the least pain -- the utilitarian calculus We sum the goods positives and then the bads negatives Then subtract the negatives from the positives This result must have a net good for the action to be considered right however this is not without weaknesses A principal weakness is that by concentrating on consequences in the interest of broad human welfare individual human rights can be trampled Another weak point to this theory is that in order to properly maximize happiness we need to have a way to quantify the amount of happiness produced by an act and a way to compare those results with the happiness produced by other possible acts Griffin 1998 How do we measure pleasure We connect enjoyment with preference fulfillment and associate this with the capacity to purchase those preferences in the marketplace Measuring the fulfillment by the dollar amount used obtaining the preferences In addition the defining of happiness may be impossible This results in difficulty in agreeing on an evaluation for the overall good or to minimize the overall bad Smart 1997
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