Free Essay About Ethical Theories Application Paper

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Consumption, Life, People, Ethics, Happiness, Style, Morality, Theory

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2020/11/05

Our current lifestyle with regards to the consumptions of goods raises serious moral ramifications when analyzed in the light of major ethical theories. In this world of corporate culture, consumption has become the most important thing. Through intentional and planned efforts, our life style has been changed into a consumption centric way of living. In U.S people consume twice as much as they used to consume half a century ago. This explosion in consumption rate is a result of conscious efforts and advertisement is the main reason behind it, according to reports, today people see more advertisements in a year than people five decades ago use to see throughout their whole life. This consumption culture is the engine of this corporate and production driven world system. This new lifestyle has given people more goods and services that they cannot imagine a few decades ago, it has made people’s life more comfortable and colorful. But has it also increased the happiness of the people? Reports are not in the favor of this claim. And how morally and ethically appreciable these new values of consumption culture are?  It leads us to moral dilemmas which need to be explored.
A utilitarian would not have a very favorable opinion regarding the consumption driven lifestyle simply due to its effects on happiness. For a utilitarian, it is the overall happiness of the people which defines the moral value of a certain thing. Mill declared the doctrine of utility as, “The utilitarian doctrine is that happiness is desirable, and the only thing desirable, as an end; all other things being desirable as means to that end.”   As Mill says it is the happiness that would decide the ethical value of consumption driven life. If the life of consumption increases the overall happiness of the people than it is morally a right thing but if by consuming things at such a high rate people’s happiness decreases than in the eyes of the utilitarianism consumption centric lifestyle is ethically wrong. Now as discussed earlier the statistics show that people in U.S were much more happy in the 1950s than today which signifies that happiness has actually decreased with the increase in consumption and the reasons for this are not very hard to find as now people have less time to spend with their loved ones and less time to cherish what they have. To put it in George Sher’s words, “it would seem necessary to not only that people desire happiness, but that they never desire anything else.” Since this consumption driven model of life is not helping the increase in happiness, from a utilitarian perspective this life style is in need of a serious change.
The emphasis of Deontological theory always remains on the intrinsic worth of an action instead of its consequences. It is the intrinsic rightness and wrongness of an act that defines on which side of morality it would lie in the eyes of a Deontologist. Deontological theory is based upon Kant’s categorical imperative. Kant defines his categorical imperative as, “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law”. So for a deontologist the crucial question is that this life style of over consumption is good in itself or not? Is the over consumption of resources is a right thing? If that high consumption life style becomes a universal maxim, it would destroy the planet within years. This consumption based economy is forcing people of the third world to live life in subhuman conditions, just as a means to run this hungry demanding life style and according to the second form of categorical imperative, “So act as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of any other, in every case as an end and never as merely a means.” Therefore, according to Deontology this consumption driven culture is ethically wrong.     
            Finally comes Aristotle’s virtue ethics and in virtue ethics more important question than rightness and wrongness of an action is what constitute a good character. It is the nature and goodness of values that defines a good or bad life. One can clearly observe that this modern life style of consumption has changed the very core of society’s values. Instead of thriftiness, frugality and sustainability now only consumption seems to define the outlook of the people. Consumption is just an act an in itself has no value it has been given a status of value artificially. Aristotle would not accept that and would declare a life driven by only consumption not a virtues life.
            To conclude, it seems all the major theories of ethics are against this over consumption of the world’s resources and this is not very surprising considering the awful effects this life style is inducing on the consumer, the factory worker, people of the third world, earth resource base, environment and ecosystem.     

Works Cited

Mill, J. S. (1861). Utilitarianism.
Pojman, L. a. (2011). Discovering Right and Wrong (7 ed.). Cengage Learning.
Rachels, J. (1986). The Elements of Moral Philosophy. McGraw-Hill Companies.
Sher, G. (2012). Ethics: Essential Readings in Moral Theory. Routledge.

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