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Ethical Theories

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1. Shaw and Barry distinguish two different forms of utilitarianism. What are these two forms. Briefly describe each

According to Shaw and Barry (2010, p.63), there are two kinds of Utilitarianism; act and rule. Act utilitarianism states that we must first determine the consequences of our actions, and from this observation, make a suitable choice. This choice would generate happiness for the majority of people affected. The negative consequences would be exceeded by the positive, and should, "...bring more total good than those of the alternative course of action..." (Shaw & Barry, 2010, p. 63). The action that promotes the most positive outcome would be chosen.

Rule utilitarianism states that the degree of "right" for any action depends on whether or not that action mimics the "moral rules" (Shaw & Barry, 2010, p.80) and promotes the most happiness. The utility of rules rather than actions is evaluated, and all actions should conform to the rules to the highest degree in order to be considered ethical.

2. What do economists mean by the "declining marginal utility of money"?

Marginal utility can be defined as the additional value or happiness from one additional good or service, or money in this case. With each additional dollar, the value and happiness declines, the one additional dollar losing its initial feeling of worth compared to the previous additions. It is stated by economists that money has a declining marginal utility, along with a majority of goods and services (Shaw & Barry, 2010, p.121).

It can be measured by the person's worth, depending on their position and income in society, of that one additional item; the more you have of an item, the less you value its worth. An example could be a wealthy individual's additional value of $20 compared to a low-income individual additional value of that same $20. The additional $20 would generate more happiness from the low-income individual compared to the wealthy individual. It is the hope of utilitarian's that, "...making distribution of income more equal is a good strategy for maximizing happiness" (Shaw & Barry, 2010, p. 121), in order to, "...advocate increased economic equality" (Shaw & Barry, 2010, p. 122).

3. Robert Nozick presents his entitlement theory as a function of three basic principles. What are these three basic principles?

The three basic principles, according to Shaw & Barry (2010, p. 123-123) are: the original acquisition of holdings, transfer of already owned goods from one person to another, and no one is entitled to a holding except by the first two theories. These theories imply that a person is entitled to their holdings if it was attained without the violation of any other person's rights (Shaw & Barry, 2010, p. 123).

The first entitlement theory, original acquisition of holdings, in its most basic form is this, if you own the land and work it productively, the product and this land is yours to keep. Morally according to John Locke the land is yours if you've invested your self. However, even Locke acknowledged there were some limitations (Shaw & Barry, 2010, p. 123-124). If you have spoiled your land and made waste of it then morally you do not have ownership of said land. In that case, another person can claim to say land, if that person can, for lack of better terminology, run the land better than you could.

Nozicks's second principal states a person who has a legitimate claim to previously own goods, that are acquired, not through theft force or fraud, but by the passing down as a gift or for example an inheritance. Anything acquired by any other means would null and void the principle of the transfer, which brings us to Nozick's third principle.

If you acquire or take anything that are not in accordance with the previous two principles stated, then stated simply, you have no claim to it and are not entitled to have it.

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