Jeremy Bentham was summoned as the founder of utilitarianism, the concept in which the value of action is the result. Essentially, individuals make their decisions based on the perceived consequences of action; ie which action would result in the greatest number of people happiness and satisfaction.
History says that Winston Churchill was aware of the bombing of 14 November 1940 in the British city of Coventry. Even though at least 48 hours before he was informed that the city would be a target of a German aerial attack, Churchill did not warn residents of the area. Although such a decision involves a number of legal, political and moral dilemmas, Churchill certainly faces what was a shameful decision; sacrifice people and the city of Coventry or make the Germans aware that British coders have deciphered the important tools of German military communication.
Breaking the code is likely to be a major military victory for the British and Churchill. wanted to sacrifice their newly founded knowledge to the Germans. Therefore, Churchill had to choose the least of the wickedness and leave the Coventry people to defend themselves as in previous bombings. Of course, Jeremy Bentham's utilitarianism would be morally and politically correct, as Churchill's willingness to sacrifice Millions of World Millions to sacrifice Coventry's city. However, the knowledge that the British had now did not prevent the millions of Europeans being destroyed.
Undoubtedly, any decision such as Churchill in 1940 would be extremely unpleasant and many would not be able to make such a decision. But if hundreds or thousands of victims ultimately save millions or even billions, the decision must be made. There can be no case where a decision can be entrusted morally wrong unless the victim does not produce similar results; namely to use Coventry as an example if the victim of the city served only to protect the knowledge of the code, and that knowledge will ultimately not save millions of people. The mere protection of the code would not be enough to rationalize such a decision, but would protect millions of millions.
The application of hedonist calculus of Bentham yields interesting results for this example. The fact that Churchill's decision comes up in this example should have the potential to do the code in order to end the war and save millions of lives, although there was actually no real joy in the situation. Such an equation would be weak, as the results of the decision will have to come for a while, if at all. Churchill has taken considerable risks in the sacrifice of Coventry, which would have fallen short. However, we can not use equations or theories to approach morality as morality is a self-contained and emotional concept.
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