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In America, the gap between the have and the have-nots seems to be widening. Doesn’t that mean there’s a lot more wealth to go round? Or is it good news for the rich but very bad news for the poor? Filmmaker Alex Gibney depicts an uneasy coexistence of wealth and poverty along one New York City thoroughfare; in his latest film titled “Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream”. 740 Park Avenue is one of the most exclusive addresses in the world, home to some of the richest Americans, the 1% of the 1%. Ten minutes to the north, across the Harlem River, is the other Park Avenue, in the South Bronx. Here, unemployment runs at 19% and half the population need food stamps. Is their consequences for this imbalance in wealth and are the rules governing inequality moral?
Rule Nonconsequentialist is basically described as a theory of morality that suggests what is fair is fair; and that you cannot apply morality to the consequences that ensues when on follows the rules (Thiroux, Krasemann.) So, who makes the rules and allows oversight for those to be held accountable? We know that America is a capitalistic society and that the tax codes favor land, business owners, and entrepreneurs. So, my question is why is the social welfare of the low class being ignored; in favor of a game of chess over a cup of coffee. The big theme that overshadows the consciousness of America is the “American Dream” with a white picket fence tag that gets placed over America’s head.
Yes, it is a known fact that you can come from nothing and make it big in America. But, at what point do we consider how the welfare of America is calculated. Brad Hooker a British American philosopher who specializes in moral philosophy explains that; “welfare is calculated by counting a benefit or harm to any one individual the same as the same size benefit or harm to any other individual, and then adding all the benefits and harms together to reach an aggregate sum”. Although, there is much debate and dispute over this notion I still believe it to holds much truth. You must always count the cost of an action or rule that is handed down by ranking elite; as in making sure that the foundation upon which the rule was established gives way to the social welfare of others.
The theory of morality we can call full rule consequentialism selects rules solely in terms of the goodness of their consequences and then claims that these rules determine which kinds of acts are morally wrong. George Berkeley was arguably the first Rule Consequentialist. He wrote, “In framing the general laws of nature, it is granted we must be entirely guided by the public good”. We have seen that rule consequentialism evaluates rules on the basis of the expected value of their acceptance by the overwhelming majority. So, how do we move forward as a society and begin to move these old mindsets off the scene and rebuild a moral society?
In the Preamble of the Constitution we are told that one of the reasons the U. S. Constitution was set up was to promote the general welfare of the people. So, what form of action should be taken to make sure that this preamble gets reestablished; not as a crutch but as a means of teaching others how to maintain their equilibrium
throughout life. I would assume that this makes much sense as a moral rule in which seeks to help the poor; by providing them a platform on which to build their future. The Divine Command Theory states that morality is based not upon the consequences of actions or rules, or upon self interest or other interestedness, but rather upon something “higher” than these mere mundane events of the imperfect human or natural worlds.
So, why are we to question the definition of “Act Nonconsequentialist” which makes the major assumption that there are no general moral rules or theories at all, but only particular actions, situations and people about which we cannot generalize. Is there some supreme higher power that is controlling both sides of the fence? The difference between act and rule consequentialist seems to hinge on the fact that they are not based on consequences; and that a divine authority sets in motion the rules that are to be. But, today in society this isn’t accepted by the mainstream populace due in part to the suffering that happens to be taking place all across the world.
I am a firm believer that a divine presence is always relevant in the affairs of man; through leading and guiding them to build a more productive society. So, the issues and problems that we face in society today are definitely consequences of our own actions; and not some divine power throwing favors on one and not the other. In the Christian world we like to say that “favor isn’t fair”; as a metaphor to not judge what the “higher power” does in certain people’s lives. We have to look at the overall picture and how all things related to one another. In this 21st century tectonic shift the poverty of Bangladesh will definitely have consequences in America if we can’t make the distinction and begin to provide solutions to these issues.
Downing, Lisa, "George Berkeley", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Ethics : theory and practice/ Jacques P. Thiroux with Kieth W. Krasemann – 11th ed. Pg. 49 Ethics : theory and practice/ Jacques P. Thiroux with Kieth W. Krasemann – 11th ed. Pg. 47 Hooker, Brad, "Rule Consequentialism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Learntheconstitution/social-welfare.html