Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Thinking Beyond Yourself: A Lesson in Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is one of the most powerful and persuasive philosophies in ethics. It is the belief and doctrine that a morally good action is one that helps the greatest number of people.  It is the idea of every time you make a decision, the only influence of your choice is whatever benefits the most people.  There is a sense of thinking beyond your own personal gain in utilitarianism.  There is a beauty in subtracting your own emotion and inherent selfishness out of decisions. In no way am I telling anyone to drop whatever moral code they live by and become utilitarian, but I do pose a suggestion to become an ecological utilitarian.
Credit Manhattan Edu
(1908: Utilitarian-minded movement developed, centered on practical aspects of urban growth. San Diego)
A common question that I get when describing regenerative economics is “How can I create global change when I am just one person? “.  The response to this question is critical. I have to try to influence this person into a lifestyle change with an elevator pitch.  It is easy to tell people to buy energy efficient light bulbs, recycle, reuse, drive less, and so forth, but I think we need to focus on the why of these suggestions. It goes beyond telling to join the movement in saving the planet. It goes beyond your own personal gains.  Here are some of my brief talking points when presenting this argument:
  •       Committing to an earth-wise lifestyle is not easy. There will be a little bit more work in your day-to-day activities.
  •       Think beyond yourself. You may have to make sacrifices, and they might not always be easy, but they are the greater good of mankind.


       I am not asking anyone to change their entire lifestyle or moral compass, but I am asking you to think about the greater good of society the next time you buy light bulbs or choose between driving your car or riding the bus. I ask that when you come to a crossroads between choices in which may have a positive or negative ecological outcome, please choose the positive action.  A lifestyle of ecological utilitarianism may not always be easy, but it is a small sacrifice for the greater good of the world. 

      A more in-depth explanation of utilitarianism here

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