Beneficence And Nonmaleficence: The Main Principles Of Utilitarianism

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Autonomy is when someone has a rational capacity for self-governance or self- determination which is the ability to direct one’s life and make choices for themselves. A person should be allowed capacity for self-determination. People will have the power to make rational decisions as well as moral choices in life. You must treat people with respect because it is not respectful to violate their autonomy. Disrespecting their autonomy could be ignoring their ability to choose their own paths and make judgments for themselves. Nonmaleficence means not to intentionally inflict harm to another individual or to unintentionally inflict harm to another individual that’s in our care. For example, if you were to exploit a patient financially by selling unnecessary devices that assist them including at a higher price. 

As for Beneficence, it is the opposite of nonmaleficence. Beneficence is actions used to help prevent, remove harm or to even help to improve a situation. Actively promoting the well-being of others. For justice, justice refers to treating equals equally. Justice is linked to fairness, entitlement, and equality. There are two types of justice there is retributive justice and distributive justice. Retributive justice is a punishment driven by a passion for revenge. Distributive justice is a distribution of society’s advantages and disadvantages. For example, one a student of color entering a classroom five minutes late not receiving the same punishment as a student of a different race. The teacher scolds the student of color and takes no interest in the student’s reason for being tardy. However, the teaching shows genuine concern and sympathy for a student not of color that committed the same offense the next day. Utility is a principle that underlies utilitarianism. 

There are two types of utilitarianism there is act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism means that we should always choose our actions based on what makes us happy. Rule utilitarianism means that we should turn behaviors into a set of rules based on what makes us happy. Utility is referred to both nonmaleficence and beneficence meaning that utility is measured by taking harms away from benefits and encouraging actions that produce beneficence while minimizing nonmaleficence, but also going beyond the two. For example, if there is a convict that’s going to prison for a drug violation and has to meet with the judge the judge may use utilitarianism because she is knowledgeable that the convict will not commit any more violations and is willing to release them because they are either ill or they are very old knowing that it will make the convict very happy. 

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