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History of the Utilitarianism Ethic

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Submitted By khawke1985
Words 3007
Pages 13
Professor Christopher Myers
July 27, 2013
History of the Utilitarianism Ethic
The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number America lavish with a plethora of landscapes and ecosystems beyond our understanding. Truly, North America sustains some of the most opulent sights. However, our lands were not always so lush, and full of beauty. A complex history of dreams, ideas, and political affiliations came into play in the overall conservation and preservation of our landscapes. Many ethically driven environmental doctrines came into effect, to be where we are today, as a nation of conservation. Within this compendious paper, I will go into the history of some of the founding fathers of the utilitarianism concept. And how historically, this concept has shaped our nations conservation system today, and in particular shape the U.S. Forest Service.
“Where conflicting interest must be reconciled, the question shall always be answered from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run.”
Gifford Pinchot North America metamorphosed into a leading influence on the fortitude of its natural resources. As the nation broadened from sea to sea, these resources seemed boundless. For the European settlers to North America, the “greater good” meant clearing the land. The trees were an encumbrance, and the timber was treasured. Before the times of the Napoleonic Wars (1800s), our nation’s economy thrived upon timber. Horses drew wooden carriages over wooden planked roads. The southern pines produced millions of barrels of tar and pitch for sealing our wooden ships (Anderson, 2000). Timber fueled train engines echoed through the landscapes of our nation on railroad ties made from timber, and replaced at a rapid rate. As our forests of the North, East, South, and West all had fell to the perpetual axe, a cry rain out to our nation, and by 1832, of an ominous warning of a shortage of timber, commonly referred to as the “Timber Famine,” (Anderson, 2000). A fight for conservation had began, a flame was light, that would ignite a fire storm of passion, debate, scandals, anger, and a overall devotion to the ideology of utilitarianism concept of conservation. In 1864, George Perkins Marsh wrote his profound novel Man and Nature, within his text Marsh compared the devastated cut-down mountains of his native Vermont to the destitute landscapes of the Mediterranean. As a United States councilman in Italy and Turkey, George Perkins Marsh had been heavyhearted. For the land that was once ample with trees, was now lost. Marsh pleaded with the United States that we could become like the Mediterranean if we did not act agile to the concerns of our land (Anderson, 2000). And just when George Perkins Marsh’s worst fears came true, and he felt all hope was forsaken, just a year after his publication of Man and Nature, a boy was born that would forever shift our environment with a passion and love for the outdoors. And with his influential parents, would lead him to become one of the many of Americans forefathers of conservation, Gifford Pinchot (Anderson, 2000). Gifford Pinchot’s dream since he was a young-boy was to repair the land that his grandfather and great-grandfather had demolished. Pinchot’s, family emigrated from France, and settled in Milford Pennsylvania (Lewis, 2007). Gifford’s family flourished in riches by cutting down forests, and selling the land to farmers (2007). And by the late 1800s Gifford’s parents were among the many of those who feared the possibility of a timber famine. The Gifford family had built a summer home known as Grey Towers, and set out to restore the damaged landscapes; they help destroy (Lewis, 2007). The Pinchot’s used their wealth to make an impact on American life itself. James and Mary Pinchot donated most of their values to that very cause. During Gifford’s studies at Yale University, his parents gave him an addition to his Man and Nature re-titled The Earth as Modified by Human Action, which was a gift to Gifford for his twenty-first birthday (Steen, 2004). Little did James and Mary Pinchot realize, how much of an impingement that Marshes book would have, in constructing the path to Gifford’s career and dreams (Steen, 2004). Gifford Pinchot had went forth to his professor in Yale University and announced how he wanted to be a “forester” but he did not know how, his professor confused, did not know how either. There were simply no forestry programs in the United States at that time, so Pinchot set out to Europe (Steen, 2004). In France and Germany Pinchot studied how forests could be properly managed using the fundamental of “sustained yield.” Essentially trees were a crop, which could be harvested profitably forever (Steen, 2004). Pinchot was an advocate to what modern foresters call “scientific forestry” however; he thought that concept should be applied differently within the United States (Seen, 2004). Pinchot believed that the American forests should reflect the democratic values of the nation. Americas land should be managed to the benefit of all, which we know now as a utilitarianism method (Lewis, 2007). Unfortunately, the United States was not on the same page as Pinchot. The General Land Office of the U.S. a part of the Department of the Interior was simply giving all of their resources away. Land grants to railroads opened the West to rapid development. Uncontrolled mining, branching, and logging reshaped the western landscape indefinitely (Lewis, 2007). Thus, in 1891 Congress had added a one-sentence amendment to the Land Law Reform Bill. However, no one could had predicted how these simple words could have such a far reaching affect, in what would become the substructure of the federal system of public lands. The Forest Reserve Act of 1891, states “The president of the United States may set apart and reserve public land bearing forests as public reservations,” (Lewis, 2007). The significance of the Forest Reserve Act of the late 1800s is that it ever happened at all. Attitude towards public land was to simply depart of them all together, to railroads, land speculators, and homesteaders (Gittinger, 1939). However, a nation would decide in 1891 that some lands would never be simply just “given away”. Those lands would be held in the hands of the people, which was a variation in conservation. This was a primitive step, that would be better for the nation as a whole, to keep some lands in the public ownership, so that they could be managed for the good of all people, and prevent any resource damage as in the past (Lewis, 2007). By the time former President Benjamin Harrison term had ended in the late 1800’s. Harrison had designated over fifteen reserves, but the forest reserve act did not specify what should be done with the reserved lands (Kelly, 2012). Should these lands be protected for their artistic and recreational values? Or should the lands be open to the communities? President Grover Cleveland before he left office in 1908 had double the size of forest reserves from 19 million to 39 million acres (History, 2013). This caused much debate in the western states, many congressmen argued and pushed to get back their lands lost in the 1897 Reserve Acts. Furthermore, many individuals on opposing scientific communities created their own “act.” The Organic Act of 1897 was generated to improve and protect the forest favorable conditions of water flows continuous supply of timber. It was a difficult time for forest management; it was one thing to have land set-aside, but entirely a different story to know what to do with the land (Gittinger, 1939). Furthermore, the Organic Act of 1897 just paved the path for Gifford Pinchot to begin the never-ending challenge of forestry in the United States. Pinchot resided within a beautiful home to entertain the right crowd to peruse his ideology of forestry within the United States (Steen, 2004). Eventually Pinchot’s family had created a school of forestry in Yale University (Lewis, 2007). Pinchot creates the school, he created the industry that provides the labor for the students and he creates the Journal that they will all read “The Journal of Forestry.” Pinchot further creates the professional organization that they will all join and pay their dues “Society of American Foresters 1900.” Pinchot created the true profession of a “forester,” (Steen, 2004). After the assignation of former President McKinley this gave birth to a new century of dramatic attributes. After the death of McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt became our nation’s president. Theodore Roosevelt was a notorious conservationist; he had a long history of a passion for the land and nature (Miller, 2013). Pinchot and Roosevelt became instant allies; Roosevelt worked to get the forest reserves out of the land office- and into the hands of Gifford Pinchot (Miller, 2013). Pinchot anathematized the General Land Office which was a part of the Department of the Interior. Pinchot realized they were a corrupt political system, nothing more (Miller, 2013). Shortly thereafter, Pinchot then organized The American Forest Congress in January, 1905. The American Forest Congress provided political backing for the transferring of all the forest reserves from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Agriculture (Miller, 2013). Pinchot then generated what was once referred to as the Bureau of Forestry, and transformed it into the United States Forest Service (Miller, 2013). Pinchot even changed the term forest “reserves” to “national” forest. Pinchot felt that “national” was a better term for national meaning nationally owned, and nationally controlled (2013). This all coincided with the Forest Service slogan that the Forest Service was to serve the people (Miller, 2013). By the end of President Teddy Roosevelt’s first term he had set-apart over 20-million acres of land for National Forests. And by the end of Roosevelt’s second-term, he had set-apart 80-million acres of all acclaimed National Forest lands. Pinchot had become the advocate for President Roosevelt’s “Conservation Movement” across the United States (Miller, 2013). Within the early years of the Progressive Era, a thick divide had been created. Men like Pinchot who favored wise use (conserve) and men like another founding father John Muir, who favored more federal regulations (preserve). John Muir argued that the national forest that was being created should be untouched, and preserved not conserved. The lands should not be used for livestock, grazing, timber, or recreational use. Pinchot disagreed, and he sought that the only way to save the lands was to conserve them. Both men had entirely two different visions on how the lands should be applied. Pinchot was for the democratic viewpoint for the use of nature to benefit as many people as possible, the utilitarian approach. Whereas Muir stood for nature and that nature is a place where we all go to understand the creation in its whole glory. Nonetheless, these theories began were on a collision course (Miller, 2013). These two viewpoints collided within the Yosemite National Park, within the Hetch-Hetchey Valley. This lush valley was one of the most controversial events in conservation history (Sierra Club, 2013). In 1906 was a mark in our history for the first time between the development and the preservation on national level affiliation (2013). “John Muir felt that Hetch Hetchy should be preserved, and Gifford believed that the water ways should be used for Sand Francisco needed a new reservoir” (Sierra Club, 2013). In the end the Congress had chosen Pinchot’s theory and this was a devastating blow to John Muir and his ethical standpoint on environmental impacts. The core issue with conservation is economically you are never going to solve conservation if you cannot address the fundamental well being of the community (Anderson, 2000). You cannot address the fundamental social justice in the community if you cannot address economics and development both (Anderson, 2000). Example: Pinchot believed that forestry would only gain success if the citizens felt that it was paying a dividend to them personally. This “idea” generated one of the largest controversies in American history. When William Henry Taft became our nations President after Roosevelt era, Pinchot actualized that there was no longer a conservationist in office. The Taft Administration was releasing public lands to Richard Ballenger (Secretary of the Interior). Pinchot and his followers had implicated Ballenger in the “Alaskan Scandal” and blamed President Taft, for not firing Ballinger. And in 1910, Taft fired Gifford Pinchot not Ballenger (Anderson, 2000). Pinchot’s “dismissal” was not such a heartbreaking ending; this allocated for Pinchot the ability to openly campaign in conservation efforts. Pinchot had created something new to that era of conservation. A storm had been brewing for years, and was now about to unleash hell (Lewis, 2007). After the Hetch Hetchey controversy, the Department of the Interior felt that they would do a more sufficient job in managing the national forest areas. The Park Service was generated winning some of the rights which generated much debate between the Forest Service and the Park Service of the United States. The Park Service began building roads near lakes on land they had purchased, and a flash flood of development merged on National Park land (Anderson, 2000). Then a man with a passion and lust for nature and wildlife that was profound, that it forever our changed our nation in conservational management. Aldo Leopold had worked for the U.S. Forest Service in 1909 within the Arizona Territories. His job was to measure the Apache National Forest with his small crew. Aldo shared the same utilitarian ideology that Pinchot believed in. Aldo believed that wildlife should be managed to maximize fish and game (Nix, 2013). Aldo Leopold like many others during his time was unaware of the complexities of the interrelationship between predators, prey, and their landscapes they sustained. Fish and game were being overharvested, there were no limits or regulations set-in-place during these times (Nix, 2013). A notable journal entry of Aldo Leopold which has been used many times during conservation debates is when Aldo had come across a mother wolf:
We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes - something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.
Aldo Leopold By the time Leopold had left the Arizona territory, the wolves were near extinction. Aldo looking back on his “wolf” killing moment realized his job was much more than managing the national forests.
Truly the measure of our success is not on how many deer we can raise and harvest, we need to use the land as the standard. Land is the ultimate measure and reflection of all that we do upon it, as manager, citizens, and users.
Aldo Leopold Aldo had came to the realization that there was much more to the forest that could be sustained what he referred to as “wilderness hunting grounds.” Leopold generated a plan that a large portion of national forest be set aside and not developed for roads (Nix, 2013). He brought forth a proposal a Gila wilderness area, and was eventually approved in congress in 1924. This event set forth a pattern for the wilderness areas we have today (2013). A man named Bob Marshall eventually worked with Aldo Leopold and created the Wilderness Society in 1935 (Nix, 2013). After WWII and the baby boom following after the World War, Americans were in devolpmental frenzy. Countless amounts of timber were being pushed through logging industries and alarming rates. Within the middle of 1946 over 700,000 houses were being built, and having little to no private lands with forest left, it placed upon public lands to sustain the timber for the big boom (White Mountain History, 2013). John Muir’s ideologies during his era were not favorable. It was not until the nation began a movement of social shifting into the time of “peace and change.” The public lands were being cleared in a method known as “clear cutting” and even though Gifford Pinchot had passed away in 1946; his son Gifford Bryce Pinchot entered the political stage in the name of the late Pinchot. When Pinchot’s grandson visited the Idaho Bitterroot national forest, he had seen a large piece of a mountain referred to as the “Oh My God” mountain. This made the son of the late Pinchot heartbroken and denounced the U.S. Forest Service in his father’s name (White Mountain History, 2013). Clear cutting eventually received a large negative impact on the people and thus a flash flood of laws began to be implemented:
Wilderness Act of 1964
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act 1968
National Environmental Policy Act 1970
Clean Water Act 1972
Endangered Species Act 1973
Resources Planning Act 1974
Eastern Wilderness Act 1975
National Forest Management Act 1976 These “Acts” were all implemented in the hopes of creating and generating a positive shift in environmental policy (Anderson, 2000). All regulations that John Muir was theorizing during his era that back then, the people were not ready for. Each Act is defined by the idea that you must have conservation and preservation in mind. You cannot reach sustainability without the utilitarianism approach such as the hopes and dreams of Gifford Pinchot, or the dreams of John Muir. Each man had their own passion and love for our nation’s beauty, and in the end they both wanted to see their children enjoy these beautiful landscapes of North America.

Works Cited "American President: Franklin Delano Roosevelt: A Life in Brief." Miller Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2013. .
Anderson, Kerby . "Utilitarianism: The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number-Probe Ministries." Probe Ministries - A Christian Worldview and Apologetics Ministry-Probe Ministries. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2013.…...

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...Utilitarianism ENG300 Information Literacy Assessment [Type the author name] This paper will discuss utilitarianism, its origins and how we can apply it to our lives today. I will show what would happen if everyone adopted this code of ethics and reasoning, and why I chose it.   Utilitarianism What is Utilitarianism? According to our textbooks, utilitarianism is the ethical system which believes that which is ethical is what will bring the greatest good or happiness to the greatest number of people (Turner, 2006). In a direct quote from the American Heritage Dictionary, utilitarianism is the ethical theory proposed by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill that all action should be directed toward achieving the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language). Though there are many varieties of the view discussed, utilitarianism is generally held to be the view that the morally right action is the action that produces the most good. There are many ways to spell out this general claim. One thing to note is that the theory is a form of consequentialism: the right action is understood entirely in terms of consequences produced. What distinguishes utilitarianism from egoism has to do with the scope of the relevant consequences. On the utilitarian view one ought to maximize the overall good — that is, consider the good of others as well as one's own good (Driver, 2009).A well-known dialogue by......

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Utilitarianism & Virtue Ethics

...© 2009 Ethics in a Nutshell By Matt Deaton, M.A. Ethics is the systematic reason-guided study of what we morally ought to do. It’s one of the four main sub-disciplines of philosophy, the other three being logic, metaphysics and epistemology. While most people defer to religion or society or their gut when deciding moral dilemmas, ethicists think through them for themselves. Whether or not we fully adopt their approach, we can all learn a thing or two from ethicists about asking the right questions, paying attention to the right factors, and holding a consistent set of moral beliefs. Oughts Based On Reason The difference between ethics and other ways of deciding what one ought to do is that ethics entails the rigorous use of reason. What we ought to do is one of those slippery questions to which conclusive answers are hard to pin down. All the traditional authorities have their flaws. Because religions ultimately appeal to faith, not evidence, and different religions proscribe different moral mandates, the objective thinker has no principled way to decide which to follow. Citing the Koran won’t convince a Christian, citing the Bible won’t convince a Muslim, and citing either won’t convince an atheist. Therefore, since ethicists want to appeal to reasons anyone can accept—regardless of their religious position—they can’t defer to holy books. Also, because societies disagree what morality entails, each just as confident in their......

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