Imagine will explore what happens when society

Imagine yourself being born in utilitarian like society
like in the anime psycho pass or in the book The giver, which both have
qualities of a utopian society, would you follow the main character and fight
your way out of society or choose to continue staying?

Why do we have to endure the pain of losing of love ones?
Wouldn’t life be better if we eliminate all these negative emotions in our
lives? A world with no pain or suffering sounds nice to live in, right? If your
answer is yes, then utopia will seem like a lucrative place for you to live in.
“Utopia” is the word used
to denote the best life attainable. Since each person has their own unique
vision of Utopia, Utopia is therefore, “the ability for each person to
live in their own vision of paradise.”

Jeremy
Bentham developed his ethical system around the idea of pleasure. He built it
on ancient hedonism which pursued physical pleasure and avoided physical pain.
According to Bentham, the most moral acts are those which maximize pleasure and
minimize pain. An act would be moral if it brings the greatest amount of
pleasure and the least amount of pain. John Stuart Mill modified this
philosophy and developed it apart from Bentham’s hedonistic foundation. Mill
used the same utilitarian calculus but instead focused on maximizing the
general happiness by calculating the greatest good for the greatest number.
While Bentham used the calculus in a quantitative sense, Mill used this
calculus in a qualitative sense. He believed, for example, that some pleasures
were of higher quality than others. Utilitarianism has been embraced by so many
simply because it seems to make a good deal of sense and seems relatively
simple to apply. However, when it was first proposed, utilitarianism was a
radical philosophy. It attempted to set forth a moral system apart from divine
revelation and biblical morality. Utilitarianism focused on results rather than
rules. Ultimately the focus on the results demolished the rules. In this essay,
I will explore what happens when society takes up the utilitarian role. Does it
make society better, or does it make it worse?

 

Utilitarianism
promotes a happier world because everyone wants happiness and utilitarianism
simply helps us to achieve it. This method of decision making is beneficial as
it guides people to truly think about the effects of their actions. This makes
life easier when making tough choices. During difficult time, our emotions and
desires will take over these decisions most of the time. However, with this
theory of ethics, you are able to think very rationally and make the perceived,
right choice. Making utilitarian choices results in the number of negative
aspects such as pain and suffering to be minimized which would maximize
happiness. Utilitarianism provided for a way for
people to live moral lives apart from the Bible and its prescriptions. There
was no need for an appeal to divine revelation. Reason rather than revelation
was sufficient to determine morality. In the beginning of that work Bentham
wrote: “Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign
masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them
alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall
do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of
causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do,
in all we say, in all we think: every effort we can make to throw off our
subjection, will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it.” Bentham believed
that pain and pleasure not only explain our actions but also help us define
what is good and moral. He believed that this foundation could provide a basis
for social, legal, and moral reform in society. To determine whether an action
is moral you merely have to calculate the good and bad consequences that will
result from a particular action. If the good outweighs the bad, then the action
is moral. So what would happen if society adopts the utilitarian approach? Further
on, I will explore the societies from The Giver and Psycho Pass and make a
decision whether I will stay or leave their society if I am born there.

 

What if we can eradicate all negative connotations and achieved our final goal of peace. But is peace really our ultimate goal
in life? Does peace allow us as humans to live a contemplative life, or live a
life in accordance with reason? In The Giver by
Lois Lowry, a world consisting of no memory, colour, music, love, suffering,
hunger, or war, the society is completely peaceful by blocking all pain and
suffering from the citizens. Unfortunately, what seems to be a utopia would
actually turn out to be the complete opposite, a dystopian society. In this
society, the elders, the group that runs the society, chose the job for all
eleven year olds, which determines their job for the rest of their lives.
Jonas, the only one was picked to be the Receiver of Memory. The reason why
there is no conflicts in this society because the community focused on ‘sameness’,
which results in little privacy, inability to choose a job, spouse and so on.
However, only Jonas is showed what the world used to be, full of emotions,
suffering and pain. Jonas is delighted to see what love feels like, the
beautiful spectrum of a rainbow, but is distraught when he visions war and
suffering. In this society where there is no freedom of speech because it will
get you released (put to sleep forever), lack of individualism and the
excessive amount of sameness in the community leads to communism, or worse, a
dystopian society that brainwashes all.

Aristotle states in the beginning of
Book I of Nicomachean Ethics that “man
seeks good as end or means and the end is the good. Therefore,
according to Aristotle, reaching the end means that man has achieved his
specific goal. To achieve this goal, man must live out the contemplative life,
which is living a life in accordance with reason. The goal, thus, would be one
in which is determined by the humanness of man since it must be in accordance
with reason, which requires all of human potential. Even though the people do
their jobs that are given to them, they are unable to reach their end goal
because they have been robbed from their humanity. They have lost all touch
with the real world, the emotions and characteristics vital for humanity
because experiencing pain and suffering is what makes a man human. It supposed
to be a two-way system, man build the state and the state helps man to achieve
the end. The absence of pain and everyone being the same just makes the people
like a clockwork.

 

John Stuart Mill, author of
Utilitarianism, had a different viewpoint on what it means to be happy. His
version matches up slightly better with the society’s view on happiness
presented in The Giver. Mill claims that “pleasure, and freedom from pain, are
the only things desirable as ends.” Mill version of happiness is something
pleasurable as a feeling, not an end goal like Aristotle. Mill views that man
achieved something pleasurable that doesn’t involve pain, then they have
reached true happiness. There is no such thing as pain in The Giver, so
pleasure is always desirable. The people are brainwashed to think that
everything is good and happy, they don’t know the difference between pleasure
and pain because they do not know any better in terms of pain and pleasure. The
Giver and Mill have the utilitarian viewpoint which agree that in the majority
versus minority rule in which anything can be considered good as long as the
majority agrees that the act is good. A bad action can be considered good as
long as the majority believes so. As seen in The Giver, babies that are
exceptional small and abnormal are killed because they violate the sameness
rule. Since the people do not know suffering or pain, the act is considered
good because that is what the majority thinks. This is an example on how a bad
action turns into a good action because of the majority rule. Mill’s argument
of utilitarianism close relates to The society’s view of happiness because pleasure
is free form pain and the majority gets to decide if an act is good or bad. Pleasure is always good
in the absence of pain. But when pain is non-existent, can I really say that I
have achieved true happiness? The way the society pushes the Utilitarian way of
being happy along with the little individualism and corruption makes it an
undesirable place to live in. So going back to Jonas, he goes on a
battle to escape the communities and reach Elsewhere, which is considered the
society we live in today consisting of pain and suffering, emotions, and music,
which is the real utopia. Would I follow him and leave this pain free dystopia?
Definitely yes, I will leave because the I do not agree with the view of
seeking perfection in the society. If choosing to discard emotions brings me
happiness, then it would be the same as claiming that happiness is when you
become an emotionless robot. Then in my opinion, it will defeat the purpose of
pursing a fulfilled colourful life. This might even lead me into
thinking that maybe war and sufferings are necessary evil in this world or else
our government today will turn into a catastrophic dystopia in the future like
the one portrayed in The Giver.

First let us explore the psycho pass society. This time, it
differs from The Giver’s society because now the world is filled with colours,
emotions, wars and suffering. Under this Sibyl System where people are judged
by an AI system, known as the Sibyl System. Each and Everyone has a crime
coefficient determined by the Sibyl System. Once the crime coefficient is high,
their probability of committing a crime is high, which mean they will have to
go for treatment which is like a prison. Note that this crime coefficient takes
years to go down, but it may rise up in an instant. So once the crime efficient
is very high, the person is identified as a latent criminal by the Sibyl system
and will be eliminated for good by the enforcer. Just like The Giver’s society,
this society lacks free will, not in terms of choice but the entire justice
system is based on probability of individual committing a crime, which raises
many debates. Can those who never committed a crime be considered criminals?
What if they manage their psychological stress and refrain from committing
crimes? How can ever know if they die before having a chance to prove
themselves?

Sybil is a binary justice system: you are either
100% innocent or 100% guilty, there are no grey areas, presenting itself as a
double edged sword. It is a place where crimes are basically unheard of, people
do not need to worry for their safety and the vast majority can lead a peaceful
life without worrying. While there are restrictions on free speech, there are
still message boards and politics so long as the thoughts are not violent. One
of the greatest aspect is that Sybil is an unbiased objective system where no
rich or people with influence can escape their crimes because of their status.
Additionally, police brutality and gang violence cannot happen in this world.
The cons are similar to The Giver’s society, limitation on speech, a single
event can end your life for good without you doing anything harmful. There is a
problem with reverting back to the old status quo which take years, and people
can get tired and bored living while constantly having their emotions in check.
But at the end of the day, when we compare Sybil with today’s justice system,
both are equally bad and flawed, and there is no right way to settle this debate.
There are people who are treated badly by the Sibyl system, but the same goes
for our justice system. People born in a poor environment with frequent war and
violence and little education are more likely to become criminals and politicians
get off scot-free even if they commit crime. So the question is where is the
balance between a completely impartial system that minimizes corruption and has
minimal flaws.  Under this system, no
one can change emotionally, and on top of that the society has utopia qualities
not because everyone is happy but because society functions smoothly under the reliance
of the AI system which eradicates criminals before they commit crimes. Unlike
The Giver, who its people don’t know that their emotions are taken away, the
universe in Psycho-Pass is an epitome of how this seemly utopian society is
actually a dystopia, a utopian dystopia. Let’s say we follow the main character’s footstep
and leave this society. Then we would realize that unlike The Giver, the other
society are actually in ruins, filled with true dystopia where wars, violence,
pain and suffering fill the air. Would we still choose to leave the utilitarian
society?

 

 

 

Sibyl
System represents a branch of ethical theory known as consequentialism, in
which the only factor taken into account when determining the ethics of a
situation is the end result. In other words, the correct decision is the one
with the most favourable results. Some opposes this, instead choosing to
believe that a decision only has importance because of the motivation and will
of the person deciding, an opinion that is much more representative of
virtue-based ethics which is one should act according to what they think is
right, regardless of the consequences. It is obvious
for us that the Sibyl System is inherently immoral and unethical, as a
utilitarian society, wouldn’t it achieve its goal because the vast majority of
the people under the system are able to live happy and productive life. No
system is perfect, even the Sibyl System, but that doesn’t mean that the Sibyl
System isn’t the best option available. Ultimately, the question that the
society of Psycho-Pass raises is whether the ends
justify the means. Is it preferable to have a society that is prosperous and
has low crime but based on a morally and ethically ambiguous system, or to have
a system that is morally and ethically sound but is rife with crime and
unhappiness?

 

One of the criticism of utilitarian
states that “they reduce the subtleties of human life to a
stark calculation of animal-like pleasures, with no concern for how these
pleasures are produced.” This gave utilitarianism a negative connotation
and it was often mocked as a “doctrine only worthy of swine”. (philosophy
of the classics, mill utilitarianism). John Stuart Mill defends utilitarianism
from such criticism with his version which differs from Jeremy Bentham’s
“simple” version: Mill’s differentiation between higher and lower
pleasures puts forward that intellectual pleasures are intrinsically more
valuable that physical pleasures. Bentham however treats all pleasures as equal
to each other. So, when utilitarianism is described as a doctrine worthy only
of swine, Mill argues that it is better to be a dissatisfied human being than a
satisfied pig; and better to be a dissatisfied Socrates than a satisfied fool.
His defence is that human beings are capable of intellectual pleasures as well
as physical ones, whereas pigs cannot enjoy intellectual pleasures. In his
view, humans who have experienced intellectual pleasures will prefer them to
lower, physical ones. that Mill’s suggests is a better way to reach a greater
degree of happiness in life, and is more valuable toward health and mental
satisfaction. Not only does Mill distinguish between mental and physical
pleasures, he also distinguishes between quality of pleasures and quantity of
pleasures.

To conclude my view on utilitarianism, although
often considered a simple theory which declares that the morally right action
in any circumstances is the one which is most likely to maximize happiness, is
actually a very complex cluster of related theories developed rapidly since the
18th century. As a moral basis for some decision making I think
utilitarianism could have some use in society today, however, as moral theory I
do not think that it upholds and the problems within it are insurmountable. Overall, the weakness outweighs the strengths
because Utilitarianism doesn’t take into account the feelings or happiness of
the minority and also how can we measure pleasure, you can’t add a value
towards it.

The pros and cons of the society has to be weigh in order
to determine whether one should stay or leave.  If it is in the context of The Giver, and my
parents are not my parents. The obvious choice is to leave the society for
good, and seek for a world with colours and emotions. But when presented with
the society in Psycho Pass, a utopian dystopia, and other dystopian society
filled with war and violence, the answer is not as obvious as it seems. Since I
disagree with the ethics in the Sibyl System, I would definitely leave but if I
go to other war zones, my chance of suffering and getting killed increases ten
times. So the question would be whether I want to live a life of unhappiness or
risk living in misery. It is just choosing the less miserable of the two,
similar to idea of whether would we want to live in a warzone or live in the
slumps of a rich country. After many consideration, though I must say maybe
living a unsatisfied but safe life might be better after all.

 

 

 

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