The theory defines the basic ethical terms, and provides the most general ways of interpreting ethical experience, obligations, the role of reason, etc. [66] Daniel Goldberg, Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, the National Football League, and the Manufacture of Doubt: An Ethical, Legal, and Historical Analysis, Journal of Legal Medicine, 34: 157-191 (2013). If a healthy person wanders into the hospital, his organs could be harvested to save four lives at the expense of one life. Do you see parallels between the debate as to whether to begin playing football again in the wake of the pandemic and the debate as to whether to abolish or reform football in light of the evidence on brain trauma? Defining Utilitarianism. But everyone thinks this. But when it was put forward by Bentham (in the form, "everyone to count for one; no-one for more than one") it was quite radical. Amber also plays an invaluable role in research. Are you aware of comparable situations around the world where individuals and corporations that wish to be moral buyers should be similarly wary, knowing that their purchase price might aid the seller’s bad acts? Reducing tackling in practices has reduced overall concussion numbers among high school players, even though the number of concussions in games has risen slightly. [90] J.S. The main assumption is that the utilitarianism theory is the sole guiding principle for making ethical verdicts. No other reason for valuing them needs to be given. [67] Adam M. Finkel & Kevin F. Bieniek, How Public Helath Science Evaluates Evidence, Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal, 25(3): 564-589 (2019). That can seem quite sensible. The co-chair of the NFL’s Health and Safety Advisory Committee has said that the committee thinks helmets are part of the culture and tradition and will not be outlawed in the foreseeable future. [4] Center for Disease Control, at https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/index.html. [88] Kathleen Bachynski, Youth Football is a Moral Abdication, The Atlantic, Feb. 1, 2020. The doctrine does not say that you should strive to maximize your own happiness. For example, the government has made it difficult for Christian and Islamic groups to gain permission to repair or build new places of worship. Why or why not? And for the same reason, a helmet alone will not prevent CTE.”[55] Furthermore, while the NFL has banned helmet-to-helmet hits, these are neither the only nor the most common cause of concussions. [45] Eamon T. Campolettano et al., Development of a Concussion Risk Function for a Youth Population Using Heal Linear and Rotational Acceleration, Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 48(1): 92 DOI: 10.1007/s10439-019-02382-2. Utilitarianism is a consequential ethical theory based on the Principles of Utility, which promotes the maximization of the welfare of society as a whole. [76] Dave Bry, American Football is Too Dangerous, and It Should Be Abolished, The Guardian (UK), Jan. 4, 2016. So, we just need to kind of put it in context.”. The idea of utilitarianism is tightly intertwined with the philosophy of consequentialism. The utilitarianism theory puts forth the ethical principle that calls for the “greatest good for the largest number of people. So, all things being equal, giving presents to a whole gang of children is better than giving a present to just one. They reject moral codes or systems that consist of commands or taboos that are based on customs, traditions, or orders given by leaders or supernatural beings. Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics, or the ethics that define the morality of actions, as proposed by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. [5] Center for Disease Control, at https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_whatis.html. The perspective of self-interest is not totally lost; the self simply finds its place among other people affected by a moral decision. But in "Utilitarianism," Mill attempts to answer this criticism by arguing that the general happiness is best served by each person focusing primarily on themselves and those around them. A political issue? On this basis, a priority for utili… [41] Ashwin L. Rao et al., Suicide in National Collegiate Athletic (NCAA) Athletes: a 9-Year Analysis of the NCAA Resolutions Database, Sports Health 7(5): 452-457 (2015). Singer argues that we have the same obligation to help needy strangers in far-off places as we have to help those closest to us. Do these choices remind you of the COVID-19 pandemic when governments, in deciding whether to shut down society and later when to reopen it, had to weigh lives vs. livelihoods? Many recent studies point to how dangerous football is to players’ long-term brain health. 30 videos - one minute each - relate recent scandals in the news and give ethical insights. Thus, we value beauty because it is pleasurable to behold. [53] Studies indicate that there are helmets that may decrease concussions,[54] but neuroscientist Julie Stamm says: “No helmet will ever be concussion-proof, because the brain still moves inside the skull. But he does think that the world is a better place if there is more pleasure and less suffering among the animals as well as among us. Daniel Goldberg, What Does the Precautionary Principle Demand of Us? They would say, for instance, that if you give $1,000 to charity because you want to look good to voters in an election, your action is not so deserving of praise as if you gave $50 to charity motivated by compassion, or a sense of duty. [12] Jesse Mez et al., Duration of American Football Play and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopothy, Annals of Neurology, 2019; DOI: 10.1002/ana.25611. It has been suggested at both the NFL and collegiate level that team physicians are faced with conflicting loyalties. We Know Little About the Long-term Effects of Concussions, Statnews, Sept.27, 2019. Children between the ages of 9 and 14 make up the largest cohort of football players in the U.S. What can scientists considering the morality of trading in Myanmar amber learn from the debate over “conflict minerals” in Africa? These studies are broken down by football league level: Given the results of the studies above, it is not surprising that there has been a strong outcry against football. Utilitarianism is not a single viewpoint, but a family of related ethical theories. [24] Michael W. Collins et al., Adolescent Sports Concussion, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, 19(2): 247-269 (2008); Mark R. Lovell et al., Recover from Mild Concussion in High School Athletes, Journal of Neurosurgery, 98(2): 296-301 (2003). Bentham’s protégé, John Stuart Mill, refined this system to include human rights. The mining of these amber specimens in Myanmar is the center of many legitimate and blackmarket sales to university researchers and private collectors alike. Bentham's commitment to equality was radical in another way, too. [54] Marc Siegel, Concussions and Football: New Helmets, New Tools, The Hill, Aug. 19, 2019. See Bennet I. Omalu et al, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player, Neurosurgery, 57: 128-134 (2005); [9] Ann McKee et al., The Neuropathology of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, Brain Pathology, 25: 350-364 (2015). To say that something has intrinsic value means that it is simply good in itself. Now Mill admits that we seem to value some things other than pleasure and happiness for their own sake—we value health, beauty, and knowledge in this way. Utility is often defined as happiness or pleasure, although there are other variants, such as the satisfaction of preferences, or preference utilitarianism. Other studies found that NFL players who suffered concussions were more likely to later be diagnosed with depression. A study of 3,904 Wisconsin men found no significant harmful association between playing football in high school and cognitive impairment or depression later in life. Chen also points to the uncertainties of the science, noting: “For now, these complexities make certain questions about the disease unanswerable. This leaves open the question of how one is to incorporate utilitarianism into one’s life. [25] Jacqueline Howard, These High School Sports Have the Highest Concussion Rates, CNN, Oct. 15, 2019, at https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/15/health/concussion-high-school-sports-study/index.html. Explain. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is “brain degeneration likely caused by repeated head traumas.”[6] Repetitive head impacts (RHIs) can cumulatively lead to CTE and early death, even though no single RHI results in a concussion. Concussion Suit, New York Times, April 22, 2015. But the more general utilitarian approach to ethical reasoning is still immensely influential. It is the only moral framework that can be used to justify military force or war. This can't really be proved. His “harm principle” is an outstanding element in his version of utilitarianism. [3], A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.”[4] A concussion is a form of TBI where the blow causes the brain to move rapidly back and forth, bouncing around in the skull and suffering various types of structural damage. Most importantly, other studies seem to indicate that concussions may be more benign. Actions Are Right Insofar as They Promote Happiness, Wrong Insofar as They Produce Unhappiness. The basic principles of utilitarian ethics can be expressed as follows: 1. Such a cost-benefit analysis should be impartial — In other words, a decision should equally consider the effects on everyone with no special treatment for your friends, family, or self. See also Ann C. McKee et al., The Spectrum of Disease in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, Brain, 136(1)): 43-64 (2013)(study of donated brains of 64 athletes found “the stage of [CTE] correlated with increased duration of football play, survival after football and age at death” for 34 football players). [26] James P. Kelly et al., Concussion in Sports: Guidelines for the Prevention of Catastrophic Outcome, JAMA, 266(20): 2867-2869 (1991). Discuss your reasoning. However, the science in this area is truly not settled. While some researchers and universities feel as though they should refrain from making such amber purchases, their failure to participate enables many private collectors to remove collections from the public or to charge researchers an exorbitant fee for access. [60] Ingfei Chen, Exactly How Dangerous Is Football?, The New Yorker, Feb. 1, 2020. African-Americans make up 12.6% of the American population but 68% of NFL rosters. Utilitarianism is a family of normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals. [31] Christie Aschwanden, Football’s Concussion Crisis is Awash with Pseudoscience, Wired.com, Oct. 2, 2019. Over the last ten years, more than one billion dollars in legal revenue has been generated from the mining and sale of amber. Explain. We can thus define utilitarianism as follows: Sometimes philosophers talk about “welfare” or “utility” rather than “wellbeing”, but they typically mean the same thing. What factors go into each side of the equation? Similarly, saving two lives is better than saving one life. However, many such studies were funded or carried out by the NFL, owners of NFL franchises, universities that earn millions of dollars from football, and other interested parties. Earlyprecursors to the Classical Utilitarians include the British M… [91] J.S. In helping others, we should try to use our resources to do the most good, impartially considered, that we can. [46] Robert F. Heary et al., Is Youth Football Safe? A 2016 study found no elevated risk of suicide in a population of players with at least five years in the league. Would you prevent kids under 14 from playing tackle football? That's why he runs the two concepts together. This may strike you as a rather obvious moral principle. Rule-utilitarianism. They’re healthy … And people say that’s crazy. The Kachin Independence Army, which includes ethnic minorities who live in the northern Kachin and surrounding regions of Myanmar, has been in armed conflict with the Myanmar government for the restoration of minority ethnic groups’ rights. ", ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Intrinsic value contrasts with instrumental value. Do you think that the NFL would make more safety-related changes if white players dominated rosters? If subconcussive blows are the cause of C.T.E., how much impact is too much? [35]  Other studies have involved skewed samples, including one where all the NFL players’ brains had been donated because of mental declines that the donors had suffered before their deaths.[36]. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982216311939?via%3Dihub, “Dodging Rumour and Insurgency: The Hunt for Burmese Amber Goes to the Heart of Myanmar’s Turbulent North,” Financial Post, Jan. 26, 2017. https://business.financialpost.com/commodities/mining/dodging-rumour-and-insurgency-the-hunt-for-burmese-amber-goes-to-the-heart-of-myanmars-turbulent-north, “It is Time to Bring Global Attention to the Trade in Burmese Amber,” NewScientist, May 1, 2019. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24232283-300-it-is-time-to-bring-global-attention-to-the-trade-in-burmese-amber/, American football is a rough and dangerous game. It is a form of consequentialism. [78] David Gee, Doubt is Their Product: How Industry’s Assault on science Threatens Your Health, Journal of Public Health Policy, 29(4): 474-479 (2008). In many respects, it is the outlook of Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) and his writings from the mid-18th century. Utilitarianism theory The utilitarianism theory is among the most common approaches in making ethical decisions. Myanmar classifies amber as a gemstone, not a fossil, so it can be legally removed from the country, unlike fossils that have restrictions on removal. Amber is a resin material that is formed from fossilized conifer tree sap during years of constant pressure and heat. Is Getting Soft. Utilitarianism (also called consequentialism) is a moral theory developed and refined in the modern world in the writings of Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). The classic form of results-based ethics is called utilitarianism. A world in which this thing exists, or is possessed, or is experienced, is better than a world without it (all other things being equal). [8] Such proteins develop in tangles that slowly strangle neurons and, consequently, inhibit brain function.[9]. [14] Jesse Mez et al., Clinicopathological Evaluation of Chronic Traumatic Encepahalopathy in Players of American Football, JAMA, 318(4): 360-370 (2017). Which approach do you find more persuasive, and why? [52] Janine Armstrong, NFL Concussion Protocol Explained: How Does It Work?, Sportcasting, Oct. 13, 2019, at https://www.sportscasting.com/nfl-concussion-protocol-explained-how-does-it-work/. [23] Steven Senne, Student Athletes Still Reluctant to Report Concussions, Nationwide Children’s Study Finds, Columbus Dispatch, Nov. 24, 2019, at https://www.dispatch.com/news/20191124/student-athletes-still-reluctant-to-report-concussions-nationwide-childrens-study-finds. Myanmar is a small southeast Asian country that contains about 130 diverse ethnic groups recognized by the government. The main principle of utilitarian moral theory, the principle of utility, states that the right action is the one that produces the most overall happiness. Critics think that this makes utilitarianism unrealistic and too demanding. But few would consider it an acceptable course of action, let alone the most ethical one. [92] Patrick Findler, Should Kids Play (American) Football?, Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 42(3): 443-462 (2015). [39] Atheendar S. Venkataramani et al, Association Between Playing American Football and Long-term Mortality, JAMA, 319(8): 800-806  (2018). What facts would you weigh in making the decision? We Know Little About the Long-term Effects of Concussions, Statnews, Sept.27, 2019. z 1.2 rule Utilitarianism The principle of utility is used to decide the validity of rules of conduct (moral standards or principles). 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