A 2017 study found CTE in 21% of donated brains of deceased high school football players. Over the last ten years, more than one billion dollars in legal revenue has been generated from the mining and sale of amber. Concussion Suit, New York Times, April 22, 2015. Similarly, saving two lives is better than saving one life.  Kathleen Bachynski, Youth Football is a Moral Abdication, The Atlantic, Feb. 1, 2020. Daniel Goldberg, What Does the Precautionary Principle Demand of Us? This is one of the limitations of utilitarianism. The theory instructs that ethical decisions should weigh the consequences of the actions on if it does more good or harm for the majority of the people.  Ashwin L. Rao et al., Suicide in National Collegiate Athletic (NCAA) Athletes: a 9-Year Analysis of the NCAA Resolutions Database, Sports Health 7(5): 452-457 (2015).  Jeanne Marie Laskas, Concussion (2015). Bry’s answer is that only the football players are being paid to do this “for our entertainment.”. Is there a case to be made for “justified harm” in any of these leagues? In some cases, amber contains inclusions, such as insects, whole or parts of animals, and plants that are trapped and preserved. But the more general utilitarian approach to ethical reasoning is still immensely influential. Riding a bicycle carries risk and not a whole lot of parents are not letting their kids ride a bike. But in "Utilitarianism," Mill attempts to answer this criticism by arguing that the general happiness is best served by each person focusing primarily on themselves and those around them. The co-chair of the NFL’s Health and Safety Advisory Committee has said that the committee thinks helmets are part of the culture and tradition and will not be outlawed in the foreseeable future. Over two regular seasons (2012-2014), NFL players sustained 4,384 injuries, including 301 concussions.  Bryan R. Cobb et al., Head Impact Exposure in Youth Football: Elementary School Ages 9-12 Years and the Effect of Practice Structure, Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 41: 2463-2473 (2013). 5. Discussion Questions on High Schools & Colleges, Discussion Questions on Youth Leagues (Under 14).  Lisa Bero, Industry Sponsorship and Research Outcome: A Cochrane Review, JAMA Internal Medicine, 173(7): 580-581 (2013). Actions Are Right Insofar as They Promote Happiness, Wrong Insofar as They Produce Unhappiness. How do we answer that question? Rather, your happiness is just that of one person and carries no special weight. Some of these are high impacts comparable to those experienced in high school and college games. Which approach do you find more persuasive, and why? Why or why not? This statistic is up 61% from 2002-2007, perhaps reflecting an improvement of awareness and reporting. Russell, Children and Dangerous Sport and Recreation, Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 34: 176-193 (2007). Regarding sports concussions, President Obama stated: “We have to change a culture that says ‘you suck it up and play through a brain injury….  Studies indicate that there are helmets that may decrease concussions, but neuroscientist Julie Stamm says: “No helmet will ever be concussion-proof, because the brain still moves inside the skull. It is better to be happy than sad. One suggested solution to the concussion problem is to outlaw helmets on the theory that players will be forced to reduce headfirst collisions and other trauma-causing actions. For example, the lives of enslavers were more important than enslaved people; the well-being of a king was more important than that of a peasant. Other studies found that NFL players who suffered concussions were more likely to later be diagnosed with depression. They can suffer concussions from milder collisions than would be required to concuss a collegiate or professional player. Nevertheless, it can still be applied in making relevant decisions if sufficient caution is put in place. We can thus define utilitarianism as follows: Sometimes philosophers talk about “welfare” or “utility” rather than “wellbeing”, but they typically mean the same thing. There is no official state religion but the Myanmar government favors the majority Theravada Buddhism population. So, we just need to kind of put it in context.”.  Philip H. Montenigro et al., Cumulative Head Impact Exposure Predicts Later-Life Depression, Apathy, Executive Dysfunction, and Cognitive Impairment in Former High School and College Players, Journal of Neurotraumua 34(2) (2017). Amber is a resin material that is formed from fossilized conifer tree sap during years of constant pressure and heat. Is it always a consideration that buyers should take into account? https://dc.law.utah.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1121&context=ulr, Sokol, Joshua, “Troubled Treasure,” Science, May 23, 2019. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/fossils-burmese-amber-offer-exquisite-view-dinosaur-times-and-ethical-minefield, Thiha, “Myanmar’s New Gold Mine is Dinosaur Amber, July 11, 2018. https://consult-myanmar.com/2018/07/11/myanmars-new-gold-mine-is-dinosaur-amber/, Xing, Linda et al., “A Feathered Dinosaur Tail with Primitive Plumage Trapped in Mid-Cretaceous Amber,” Current Biology, 26: 24, pl. Utilitarianism is a section or a part of the consequentialism theory. Utility is often defined as happiness or pleasure, although there are other variants, such as the satisfaction of preferences, or preference utilitarianism.  Steven Senne, Student Athletes Still Reluctant to Report Concussions, Nationwide Children’s Study Finds, Columbus Dispatch, Nov. 24, 2019, at https://www.dispatch.com/news/20191124/student-athletes-still-reluctant-to-report-concussions-nationwide-childrens-study-finds.  Ken Belson, Judge Approves Deal in N.F.L. Its prevalence is unknown, and the neuropathological diagnostic criteria are no more than preliminary. 51 animated videos - 1 to 2 minutes each - define key ethics terms and concepts. Some take the view that the NFL has acted like the tobacco industry did when it was confronted with lawsuits seeking to prove to juries that smoking caused cancer.  Matt Ventresca, The Curious Case of CTE: Mediating Materialities of Traumatic Brain Injury, Communication & Sport, 7(2): 135-156 (2019). Suicide rates among NCAA football players are the highest among all sports, but they are substantially lower than the general population age 18-22 or college students in that age range.  Everett J. Lehman et al., Neurodegenerative Causes of Death Among Retired National Football League Players, Neurology, 79(19): 1970-1974 (2012). Bentham’s protégé, John Stuart Mill, refined this system to include human rights. Utilitarianism is not a single viewpoint, but a family of related ethical theories. Utilitarianism is a moral theory that claims people should make decisions based on the amount of good it provides to all human beings.  Mayo Clinic, at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20370921. The more happiness is produced among those affected by the action, the better the action is.  Dave Bry, American Football is Too Dangerous, and It Should Be Abolished, The Guardian (UK), Jan. 4, 2016.  Everett J. Lehman et al., Suicide Mortality Among Retired National Football League Players Who Played 5 or More Seasons, American Journal of Sports Medicine, 44(10): 2486-2491 (2016). Support your position with data and facts. Myanmar classifies amber as a gemstone, not a fossil, so it can be legally removed from the country, unlike fossils that have restrictions on removal. Something has instrumental value when it is a means to some end. An accurate and comprehensive definition of utilitarianism will include the four core principles. It is the only moral framework that can be used to justify military force or war. Discuss your reasoning. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our. An Analysis of Youth Football Head Impact Data, Neurosurgery (Jan. 2020), available at https://doi.org/10.1093/neuros/nyz563.  Center for Disease Control, at https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/index.html.  Munro Cullum, Is Football Bad for the Brain? See also Ann C. McKee et al., The Spectrum of Disease in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, Brain, 136(1)): 43-64 (2013)(study of donated brains of 64 athletes found “the stage of [CTE] correlated with increased duration of football play, survival after football and age at death” for 34 football players). Ramogi Huma, executive director of the National College Players Association, argued that schools should be required to fully inform [college] players about the risks of playing football now, including information about their susceptibilities to underlying health conditions. The government then forced more than 5000 inhabitants from their homes and villages, as well as from the amber mines.  Julie Mack, What Parents Need to Know about Football, Concusions and Head Injuries, mlive.com, Nov. 24, 2019, at https://www.mlive.com/news/2019/11/what-parents-need-to-know-about-football-and-head-injuries.html (quoting neurologist David Kaufman).  Ted Tatos, Playing Games with College Athletes’ Lives, The American Prospect, May 20, 2020. In the second chapter, Mill formulates a single ethical principle, the principle of utility or greatest-happiness principle, from which he says all utilitarian ethical principles are derived: "The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals utility, or the greatest happiness principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of … The ability to hold a piece of history untouched by time has resulted in a number of scientific discoveries and advances such as feathers on a non-avian dinosaur dated 99 million years ago and the biosynthesis of gene clusters for novel antibiotics.  Matt Ventresca, The Curious Case of CTE: Mediating Materialities of Traumatic Brain Injury, Communication & Sport, 7(2): 135-156 (2019). [Reporting a concussion] doesn’t make you weak, it means you’re strong.” On the other hand, President Trump has stated that rule changes to diminish head injuries are “ruining the game.”, One scientist said: “Don’t forget there’s risk in everything we do. Others suggest that the uncertainty favors taking actions now rather than waiting until too much damage is done, as happened with tobacco. The perspective of self-interest is not totally lost; the self simply finds its place among other people affected by a moral decision. This implies that if the masses … But he does think that the world is a better place if there is more pleasure and less suffering among the animals as well as among us. Utilitarianism is a family of normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals. 3352 (Dec. 2016).  Janine Armstrong, NFL Concussion Protocol Explained: How Does It Work?, Sportcasting, Oct. 13, 2019, at https://www.sportscasting.com/nfl-concussion-protocol-explained-how-does-it-work/. In these sections, we explain e… Singer argues that we have the same obligation to help needy strangers in far-off places as we have to help those closest to us.  Ingfei Chen, Exactly How Dangerous Is Football?, The New Yorker, Feb. 1, 2020. Utilitarians believe that the purpose of morality is to make life better by increasing the amount of good things (such as pleasure and happiness) in the world and decreasing the amount of bad things (such as pain and unhappiness). Explain.  Although concussions can carry serious consequences, they are termed a “mild” form of TBI because they are not typically life threatening. Amber also plays an invaluable role in research.  Dave Bry, American Football is Too Dangerous, and It Should Be Abolished, The Guardian (UK), Jan. 4, 2016. So in Bentham's time, this principle of equality was decidedly progressive. Part of the reason is that “[m]ost of the time when a player has a concussion, standard medical imaging techniques do not show damage.” No “gold standard” for diagnosing concussions currently exists. An example of a secondary principle is the rule that it is wrong “to rob or murder, betray or deceive.” Secondary Principles Quotes in Utilitarianism 4. For example, the government has made it difficult for Christian and Islamic groups to gain permission to repair or build new places of worship. ” (Sexton 2). There are two major ethics theories that attempt to specify and justify moral rules and principles: utilitarianism and deontological ethics. The Utilitarian Principle We all know, by now, the difference between an ethical theory, and an ethical principle, right?? What facts would you weigh in making the decision? Explain. Emrys Westacott is a professor of philosophy at Alfred University. A 2016 study found no elevated risk of suicide in a population of players with at least five years in the league. Ethics - Ethics - Utilitarianism: At this point the argument over whether morality is based on reason or on feelings was temporarily exhausted, and the focus of British ethics shifted from such questions about the nature of morality as a whole to an inquiry into which actions are right and which are wrong. A 2007 study found that retired NFL players experienced levels of depressive symptoms no worse than those of the general population. Thus, they are disproportionately exposed to concussions and other injuries that arise from the game. Utilitarianism holds that the most ethical choice is the one that will produce the greatest good for the greatest number. Why or why not? If you were a university scientist, how would you decide whether it is ethical for you to buy amber from Myanmar? After a single season, college football players had less midbrain white matter than they had started with.  James P. Kelly et al., Concussion in Sports: Guidelines for the Prevention of Catastrophic Outcome, JAMA, 266(20): 2867-2869 (1991). Empirical research supports the notion that allowing children to engage in dangerous forms of play is key to their optimal development.  Bill Pennington, Trump Says N.F.L. This principle is controversial.  Steve Almond, Is It Immoral to Watch the Super Bowl?, New York Times, Jan. 24, 2014. This principle was applied to people whether they were wealthy or poor, powerful or weak. 30 videos - one minute each - relate recent scandals in the news and give ethical insights.  Julian E. Bailes et al., Role of Subconcussion in Repetitive Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A Review, Journal of Neurosurgery, 119: 1235-1245 (2013); Breton M. Asken, Research Gaps and Controversies in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy: A Review, JAMA Neurology 74(10): 1255-1262 (2017); Philip H. Montenigro et al., Cumulative Head Impact Exposure Predicts Later-Life Depression, Apathy, Executive Dysfunction, and Cognitive Impairment in Former High School and College Players, Journal of Neurotraumua 34(2) (2017); Ann C. McKee et al., The Neuropathology of Sport, Acta Neuropathologica, 127: 29-51 (2014). Why or why not. But few would consider it an acceptable course of action, let alone the most ethical one. In many respects, it is the outlook of Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) and his writings from the mid-18th century. How about the reverse—why do many people who believe football players should be free to decide what they do with their bodies take decidedly un-libertarian positions on issues such as abortion, marijuana legalization, and assisted suicide?  Thomas L. Schwenk, Depression and Pain in Retired Professional Football Players, Medicine & Science in Sports & Leisure, 39(4): 599-605 92007)(but finding that when coupled with difficult with pain, problems with sleep and social relations often followed).  William Stewart et al., Primum Non Nocere: A Call for Balance When Reporting on CTE, Lancet Neurology, 18:231-232 (2019). But everyone thinks this. But in Bentham's view, this is irrelevant.  Dave Bry, American Football is Too Dangerous, and It Should Be Abolished, The Guardian (UK), Jan. 4, 2016. They’re all in good shape. We Know Little About the Long-term Effects of Concussions, Statnews, Sept.27, 2019. Over time more evidence has indicated that even mild concussions suffered by high school football players can cause serious consequences. 2. The doctrine does not say that you should strive to maximize your own happiness. If so, how would you go about guarding against it have a deleterious impact? Ethical Theory: Utilitarianism Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that says that the right thing to do in any situation is whatever will “do the most good” (that is, whatever will produce the best outcomes) taking into consideration the interests of all concerned parties. Some argue against paternalism and in favor of individual choice, believing that adults (at least) should be able to choose to engage in boxing (and presumably to play football) despite its potentially adverse consequences for brain health. 1. A political issue? In a study of 14,000 NFL players, researchers found that even head impacts insufficient to cause concussions can mount up over the years, leading to CTE and premature death. Myanmar amber is plentiful, high quality and contains inclusions within the resin. What matters is whether an animal is capable of feeling pleasure or pain. Introduction. 8 short videos present the 7 principles of values-driven leadership from Giving Voice to Values by Mary Gentile. Instead, utilitarians think that what makes a morality be true or justifiable is its positive contribution to human (and perhaps non-… 2.2 Utilitarian Ethics Utilitarian ethics is a normative ethical system that is primarily concerned with the consequences of ethical decisions; therefore it can be described as a teleological theory or consequentialist theory, which are essentially the same thing, both having a notion that the consequence of the act is the most important determinant of the act being moral or not. So, although utilitarianism is arguably the most reason-based approach to determining right and wrong, it has obvious limitations. No other reason for valuing them needs to be given. John … African-Americans make up 12.6% of the American population but 68% of NFL rosters. The basic principles of utilitarian ethics can be expressed as follows: 1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982216311939?via%3Dihub, “Dodging Rumour and Insurgency: The Hunt for Burmese Amber Goes to the Heart of Myanmar’s Turbulent North,” Financial Post, Jan. 26, 2017. https://business.financialpost.com/commodities/mining/dodging-rumour-and-insurgency-the-hunt-for-burmese-amber-goes-to-the-heart-of-myanmars-turbulent-north, “It is Time to Bring Global Attention to the Trade in Burmese Amber,” NewScientist, May 1, 2019. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24232283-300-it-is-time-to-bring-global-attention-to-the-trade-in-burmese-amber/, American football is a rough and dangerous game.  J.S. The Basic Idea of Utilitarianism The Greatest Happiness Principle: “Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” –John Stuart Mill , On the other hand, while football helmets can prevent fractured skulls, they will likely never be able to prevent concussions.  Ingfei Chen, Exactly How Dangerous Is Football?, The New Yorker, Feb. 1, 2020.  Nicholas Dixon, Boxing, Paternalism, and Legal Moralism, Social Theory and Practice, 27(2): 323-344 (2001).  Jacqueline Howard, These High School Sports Have the Highest Concussion Rates, CNN, Oct. 15, 2019, at https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/15/health/concussion-high-school-sports-study/index.html.  Julie Mack, What Parents Need to Know about Football, Concussions and Head Injuries, mlive.com, Nov. 24, 2019, at https://www.mlive.com/news/2019/11/what-parents-need-to-know-about-football-and-head-injuries.html (quoting neuroscientist Julie Stamm). Stripped down to its essentials, utilitarianism is a moral principle that holds that the morally right course of action in any situation is the one that produces the greatest balance of benefits over harms for everyone affected. What these theories have in common are four defining characteristics: (i) consequentialism, (ii) welfarism, (iii) impartiality, and (iv) additive aggregationism. Which ones? Utilitarianism says that we should make helping others a very significant part of our lives.  Daniel Engber, Concussion Lies, Slate, Dec. 21, 2015, at https://slate.com/culture/2015/12/the-truth-about-will-smiths-concussion-and-bennet-omalu.html; Kevin Lomangino, Journalists Drop the Ball on Big Concussion/CTE Story, HEALTHNEWSREVIEW.ORG, Jan. 19, 2018, at https://www.healthnewsreview.org/2018/01/sports-desks-drop-the-ball-on-big-concussion-story/;  Matt Ventresca, The Curious Case of CTE: Mediating Materialities of Traumatic Brain Injury, Communication & Sport, 7(2): 135-156 (2019).  In addition, evidence indicates (and is consistent with the self-serving bias) that industry funding of research often influences results. It is also the most common approach to moral reasoning used in business because of the way in which it accounts for costs and benefits.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harm_principle. Critics think that this makes utilitarianism unrealistic and too demanding. Mill thinks of happiness as consisting of many and varied pleasures. Why or why not? Russell, The Value of Dangerous Sport, Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 32: 1-19 (2005). But he argues that we never value anything unless we associate it in some way with pleasure or happiness. 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