Utilitarian and Ethical Egoism Views on Abortion

Utilitarianism is favorable to ethical egoism in its handling of the issue of abortion. In the context of this paper, I am going to demonstrate this by highlighting the concept of abortion first. I will then highlight the ideas behind utilitarianism and ethical egoism. The next step will be to find how each of these ideologies views abortion. This will entail determining whether or not they consider abortion to be moral or immoral. I will also consider some of the rebuttals leveled against them and the manner in which they answer to them. I will finally establish the concept which is better than the other in the manner in which they handle the morality of abortion and come to my conclusion.

Utilitarian and Ethical Egoism Views on Abortion
Abortion can be broadly defined as any act that leads to the termination of pregnancy in a bid to prevent the development of a baby and consequently prevent his birth. Abortion remains one of the most contested issues as far as its ethical implications are concerned. The proponents as well as the critics have done very little in terms of changing their opinions as far as this issue is concerned. Most countries had never allowed abortion in their societies, except a few like Denmark and Sweden. Many countries have since allowed abortion to crop up in their societies. Many nations especially, those from Western Europe like France, Spain and Italy have since liberalized abortion laws. Only very few countries like Ireland, still maintain stringent rules as far as abortion is concerned. Many countries have since changed many of their restrictions about abortion with some of them tightening the rules as some loosen them. In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a procedure that involves the transfer of a fertilized embryo to a womans womb. The actual fertilization of the embryo takes place outside the maternal womb. With the advancement in technology, the embryos can now be stored for a very long time without the fear of destruction. There is a possibility that some of these embryos may be destroyed in the embryo banks. That poses a serious ethical challenge (Waller, p.77). Since human development occurs in stages, a fertilized embryo can just be considered as destruction of human life. Embryo destruction and abortion pose a very serious challenge and has been a bone of contention to many ethicists and philosophers. In the context of this paper I am going to limit myself to the manner in which abortion is treated utilitarianism and ethical egoism not exploring the other relevant schools of thought. The complexity of the issue of abortion arises when we seek to establish that time when we can agree that the fetus can be accorded human rights.

Utilitarianism is an idea based on the belief that we can evaluate the moral aspect of an action by considering its utility in the provision of happiness to people. It can be linked to consequentialism which is based on the idea that the outcome determines the morality of an action. The phrase the greatest good for the greatest number of people, Is usually used in the description of utilitarianism. This phrase is popularly referred to as greatest happiness principle. Utility has to be maximized for an action to be considered moral. In most contexts, utility has been synonymous with happiness or in some occasions, pleasure. Utilitarianism focuses mostly on the consequences in an effort to making the greatest number of people happy. The consequence is used to justify the action. The consequence in this case depends on the feeling it produces on the stakeholders. The morality of an issue thus depends on the possible consequence it can mean to the people concerned.

Ethical egoism is concerned with the idea that a person always acts in perspective which is more skewed towards his own self interest. Moral egoism presumes that an individual is supposed to pursue his own interests exclusively. Ethical egoism is a kind of normative theory which stresses on the manner in which are supposed to behave. It does not emphasize on any moral duty which we have except the fact that we should always act in a manner that best serves our interest. It is not concerned about the interests of other people. It holds that a person should always promote his own interests. It relies on the Principle of Self Interest. It gives room to helping others the only prerequisite is that such kind of help should be having some advantages on the individual offering the help. In this case, the help is deemed to be beneficial to both parties. It is not genuine in its nature. In the course of pursuing his interests, a person is not supposed to do the things he wants like smoking or drinking, instead he is required to do things that are bound to offer him some advantage.

From utilitarianism perspective, abortion is viewed with regards to the amounts of happiness pleasure and pain it entails to the parties concerned. Utilitarianism is concerned with the consequence but unlike ethical egoism it considers the interest of others also. An action can be deemed to be moral if it takes into consideration, the interests of a greater number of people. First of all I am going to consider the pleasure that arises as a result of abortion in places where it is permitted and compare it with that which arises in places where abortion is not permitted. We may first consider the fetus. We realize that there is a possibility that the future of the fetus may be bound to be happy and also that the manner in which abortion is carried out may end up being painful. If the procedure is carried out early enough and in a manner that is painless, then there is no pain associated with abortion as far as the fetus is concerned. The fetus is supposed to depend on the mother, so if it poses a significant risk on the health of the mother, then it should be aborted. This can be particularly considered to be a moral act if abortion is done early enough while the child is deemed to be irrational and lacking consciousness. There is also the general belief that children bring unhappiness in the family. The partners have to contend with divided love and attention.

From a utilitarian perspective an action is only considered to be moral if it is bound to produce greatest happiness in the greatest number of people. Is there any use to give birth to a child who would end up being a burden to the society Why should you give birth to a child who will always be treated undesirable because the child was born out of rape This will in the long run lead to unhappiness in the society, the mother as well as to the child. This is a case where not exploring abortion is bringing the greatest unhappiness in the society. The society will be drained financially as they have to contend with assisting another unable child in the community. Abortion decreases the number of children who are unhappy as they feel that they are a burden to the society. It also creates few unhappy parents who have to struggle to make ends meet for the family or who have to sacrifice some of the most passionate things they would have rather done if the child was not present. One major challenge to abortion is the morality of abortion in a society where it is not legal. In societies where abortion is not accepted, the better part of population will not be happy as a result of the abortion. Thus may be considered immoral. If it is legal it will be considered quite moral. What we need to consider in the first place is the happiness of the fetus and of the parents involved. After this we may go ahead to consider the society. There is a possibility that the society will not be happy when abortion has occurred. But what about not being happy for the rest of their lives, trying to take care of a child who was born from rape.

In ethical egoism, the morality of abortion should solely be decided by the mother. This should be in line with her personal interests. Abortion in this context will only be immoral if it does not appear to be serving the interests of the mother. The mother is required to consider whether or not abortion will be of any considerable advantage to her in the long run. If abortion is shunned in her community, this does not necessarily mean that having it will be immoral. Its immorality will only arise if the mother will not be able to cope with the sense of guilt which is bound to arise as a result of the abortion. If the mother is not ready for the baby, then abortion will be considered to be immoral. If the mother is sure that she is not ready to offer her time in raising the baby, then abortion would be in his own self interest and thus moral. If there is a big possibility or a challenge that is bound to make the mother unhappy after having a child, then it will be in the mothers interest to have an abortion and consequently the act would be moral. People often view ethical egoism as being very selfish in its nature.

From the perspective of ethical egoism, a mother is not always selfish by settling for abortion. If a woman feels that she is not adequately prepared to have a child at a given point in time, if she feels that she is lacking good support to enable her take care of a child, if she is not financially stable to take care of her child, if she is emotionally unstable at the time of pregnancy, or if she is still a student and the pregnancy is bound to affect her education, then having an abortion will be in her interest. If abortion will be in her interest, then the act is considered to be immoral. If the mother aborts, she will be in a position to continue with her education and thus her interest will have been well served.

Critics of ethical often cite inconsistency as its main drawback. The mother is supposed to act in accordance to her own interest. It is sometimes difficult to know what the interests of the mother are. It can be argued that if the mother could have given birth to her baby then completed her education there is a greater probability that the mother could have been happier as opposed to the case after having an abortion. There is also the probability that after completing her education, the mother could have secured an employment in which case her interests could have been better served and she would not contend with the guilt of having killed her child. Ethical egoism does not necessarily advocates for one acting in a manner that pleases her it should be in a manner that is bound to produce greater benefit to the person. This may be true but it is worth noting that while ethical egoism may support abortion if it is in the interest of the mother, it does not necessarily support abortion under all circumstances. If abortion is not in the best interest of the mother, then having an abortion is immoral.

I personally feel that utilitarianism is favorable to ethical egoism in the manner in which it handles the issue of abortion. Both utilitarianism and ethical egoism are of the opinion that abortion is moral. However, ethical egoism fails to consider the effects of abortion on all the stake holders concerned. It fails to consider the interests of the fetus and that of the society. It only focuses on the interests of the mother. It is thus assuming a selfish outlook. Utilitarianism is more favorable than ethical egoism in the manner with which it handles abortion. Utilitarianism takes into consideration the happiness of everybody in the society. By considering the interest of the greater part of the society then weighing the options, one is most likely to come up with the most acceptable solution to the issue.

In the context of this paper, I have established that utilitarianism is favorable to ethical egoism in the manner in which it handles the issue of abortion. I established this by first exploring what abortion entails. I then highlighted the underlying ideologies behind utilitarianism and ethical egoism. After understanding their ideologies, I explored the manner in which they confront the issue of abortion. I also explored the rebuttals that are leveled against them and how the address such challenges. I finally gave my own opinion concerning these theories, whereby I expressed my personal opinion that utilitarianism is favorable to ethical egoism in the manner by which it handles the issue of abortion.


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