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One death and a thousand lives in exchange--its simple arithmetic-Raskolnikov Raskolnikovs mathematical evaluation of the moral dilemmapresented to him in Dostoevskys Crime and Punishment exemplifies the empirical viewof utilitarianism Utilitarianism attempts to distinguish between right and wrong bymeasuring a decision based on its calculated worth Raskolnikov appears to employ thefundamentals of utilitarianism by pitting the negative consequences of murdering his oldlandlady against the positive benefits that her money would bestow onto society Howevera true follower of utilitarianism would be outraged at Raskolnikovs claim that murderingthe old woman can be considered morally right Raskolnikov arbitrarily leaves out somenecessary considerations in his moral equation that do not adhere toutilitarianism A utilitarian would argue that Raskolnikov has not reached an acceptablesolution because he has not accurately solved the problem On the other hand anon-utilitarian would reject even the notion of deliberating about the act of murder insuch a mathematical manner He might contend that Raskolnikovs reasoning and theentire theory of utilitarianism cannot be used to judge morality because it rejectsindividual rights and contains no moral absolutes A utilitarian bases his belief upon two principles the theory of rightactions and the theory of value These two principles work together and serve as criteriafor whether or not a utilitarian can deem an action morally right First the theory ofright action argues that the morally right decision is the one whose consequences are atleast as good as any other available option For example upon receiving the assignmentfor this paper I could have chosen to ignore the assignment and spend my time onsomething more enjoyable or I could have worked diligently on my paper actually turningit in Employing the utilitarian principle I would have to weigh each option and thendecide which one has consequences at least as good as or better than any of the otheroptions possible But what standard do I use to gauge the consequences in order to choosethe best alternative The theory of right action does not stand
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