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Discuss about the Utilitarian Ethical Thinkers.


The Scenario:

The self-driving cars or autonomous cars of Google are a unique technology established by Google in which the cars do not need anyone to drive them. Rather, they have sensors that are specially designed to detect objects in all directions and the software attached thereon processes all the relevant information so that the car can navigate safely on the road without getting tired or bored at any point of time (Google Self-Driving Car Project, 2016). While on one hand, this is a noteworthy development yet, on the other hand, there are several ethical questions and dilemma associated with this.
The Stakeholders:
The essence is that who should be held liable whenever there is an accident caused by these self-drive cars. Is it the driver of the other vehicle into which this car crashes, or is it Google or is it the programmer who is controlling the software from some remote sensing technology?
Ethical Issues:
Of course, one can argue that these cars can be helpful in preventing road accidents that take away thousands of lives every year, but nevertheless, the accident caused by the self-driving cars of Google has imposed a question mark on this. The biggest problem arises when the car is made to choose between which lives to kill (Google's Autonomous Vehicle, 2016). This means that while on one hand, there is a situation that it can bump into four people on the road or to save those four lives, it needs to strike against a wall that would injure the passengers along with a pedestrian passing by.
Non-Ethical Issues:

Utilitarian ethical thinkers that only those who do the greatest good for the greatest number of people is something which is acceptable in ethics. Hence, as far as the accident caused by the autonomous cars of Google is in question, for the utilitarian thinkers, if the total number of accidents is brought down by them, then one accident shall not be a question on ethical standards. However, according to the utilitarian thinkers, there is an ethical consideration that needs to be taken into account whenever there is any accident on the liability issue (SUTTON, 2008). Software failure is very obvious in any technology and Google, and its cars cannot choose to remain immune from it. At a general level self-driving autos appear to make a situation where society is in an ideal situation overall. The makers of the Google self-driving auto have the objective of sparing a large number of lives by dispensing with vehicles related mishaps in the United States and the long run the World.


The expectation and last final result of fewer vehicles related passing's would be acknowledged in both a Deontological and Utilitarian structure because the purpose is to spare a large number of lives, and the finished result is the end auto collisions (Rachmilevitch, 2014). However, these philosophical systems could wander in their understanding at a lower level of examination.

Ethical Analysis


Consequentialists argue that ethics are spared when some lives are saved than those killed. They argue that as long as there is a net saving in the number of lives, the ethical result is positive. This has also been backed by several studies which also reveal that the audience is seemingly happier when the number of lives that are saved is much larger than the number of lives that are lost. However, this comes with an entirely different perspective on it (CUMMISKEY, 2009). For instance, if the autonomous cars of Google reduce traffic accidents and save about 1000 lives, which is not bad, however, in this process, if they put an end to another 900 lives, which would not be fair game to accept the trade.


Just Consequentialism

In this respect, the view of the consequentialist is that the number of lives that are saved should be at least twice the number of lives that are lost. However, this also directly and clearly implies that this is an entirely arbitrary line without any reference and no defense available to give proper justification. Thus, it was clearly pointed by (Franz, 2014) in this respect that it is extremely important in ethical considerations that autonomous cars should have experimental ethics along with them so that the estimation and the utilitarian aspects of the various implementations can be understood and given a proper way. Another ethical consideration that needs to be taken in this matter is about the utilitarian theory.


It needs to be noted that with every improvement or advancement in technology, comes a new challenge and it is on the people who accept the technology that how would they refute to the challenge (Business Insider, 2016).

On the off chance that an accident is going to happen people will quite often have an ethical expectation of keeping away from the accident regardless of the fact that the accident is not kept away from (WIRED & Think, 2016).

A utilitarian would in any case likely support the self-ruling auto at this level because the self-driving auto will probably outperform the driver in maintaining a strategic distance from the accident altogether.

Nevertheless, it cannot be said that the autonomous cars created by Google are perfect. They have certain ethical considerations that need to be taken into account, but this does not mean that because of these ethical violations, the entire technology should be ruled out from existence.

There is always room available for the improvement, and it is anticipated that with every passing day, these minor faults in the technology can be worked upon, and this would leave it in no dilemma.


Thus, in conclusion, it can be said that there cannot be much regard that is given to the ethical philosophy that should be chosen for the proliferation of the vehicles. Rather, the public needs to be convinced that these self-driven cars are much safer than the traditional cars and hence have a better future. Since people tend to control or avoid accidents, the drivers of the manually driving cars will automatically take better care while driving because of the stiff competition is given by the autonomous cars.



Business Insider. (2016). The huge, unexpected ethical question that self-driving cars will have to tackle. [online] Available at: https://www.businessinsider.in/The-huge-unexpected-ethical-question-that-self-driving-cars-will-have-to-tackle/articleshow/49546496.cms [Accessed 27 May 2016].

CUMMISKEY, D. (2009). Joseph Mendola, Goodness and Justice: A Consequentialist Moral Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. ix + 326.Utilitas, 21(04), p.521.

Franz, W. (2014). Hedonic and Utilitarian Motivations behind Shopping and Research Behaviors: Theory and Evidence. International Journal of Applied Behavioral Economics, 3(3), pp.17-30.

Google Self-Driving Car Project. (2016). Google Self-Driving Car Project. [online] Available at: https://www.google.com/selfdrivingcar/ [Accessed 27 May 2016].

Google's Autonomous Vehicle. (2016). Ethics. [online] Available at: https://googlesautonomousvehicle.weebly.com/ethics.html [Accessed 27 May 2016].

Rachmilevitch, S. (2014). The Nash solution is more utilitarian than egalitarian. Theory and Decision, 79(3), pp.463-478.

SUTTON, A. (2008). The Kantian and the consequentialist elements in Rawls's theory of justice. Theoria, 45(3), pp.135-140.

WIRED, T. & Think, T. (2016). The Ethics of Saving Lives With Autonomous Cars Is Far Murkier Than You Think. [online] WIRED. Available at: https://www.wired.com/2013/07/the-surprising-ethics-of-robot-cars/ [Accessed 27 May 2016].


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