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Utilitarianism and Deontological Theories Most ethical thinking over the past 2500 years has been a

search for the appropriate ethical theory to guide our behavior in humanhuman relationships.
Some of the most influential theories in Western ethical thinking, theories that are most defensible,
are based on consequences or on acts. In the former, moral dilemmas are resolved on the basis of
what the consequences are. If it is desired to maximize good, then that alternative that creates the
greatest good is correct (moral). In the latter, moral dilemmas are resolved on the basis of whether
the alternative (act) is considered good or bad; consequences are not considered. The most
influential consequentialist ethical theory is utilitarianism by Jeremy Bentham (17841832) and John
Stuart Mill (18061873). In utilitarianism, the pain and pleasure of all actions are calculated, and the
worth of all actions is judged on the basis of the total happiness achieved, where happiness is
defined as the highest pleasure/pain ratio. (Sound familiar?) The so-called utilitarian calculus allows
for the calculation of happiness for all alternatives being considered. To act ethically, then, would be
to choose the alternative that produces the highest level of pleasure and the lowest level of pain.
Since the happiness of all human beings involved is summed, such calculations often dictate a
decision wherein the moderate happiness of many results in the extreme unhappiness of a few.
Benefit/cost analysis can be considered to be utilitarian in its origins because money is presumed to
equate with happiness. The supporters of consequentialist theories argue that these are the proper
principles for human conduct because they promote human welfare and that to act simply on the
basis of some set of rules without reference to the consequences of these actions is irrational.
Agreeing with Aristotle, utilitarians argue that happiness is always chosen for its own sake and, thus,
must be the basic good that we all seek. Consequently, because utilitarianCD2AA-QZBHD-C3KJL-
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lustrated in Example 2.10 can have many variations and modifications, none of which is right or
wrong but depend on the type of analysis conducted, for whom the report is prepared, and what is
being analyzed. Individual initiative is often the most valuable component in the development of a
useful EIS. Common parameter weighed checklist is another technique for environmental impact
assessment. It differs from the quantified checklist technique only in that, instead of using arbitrary
numbers for importance and magnitude, the importance term is called the effect (E) and is
calculated from actual environmental data (or predicted quantitative values), and the magnitude is
expressed as weighing factors (W). The basic objective of this technique is to reduce all data to a
common parameter, thus allowing the values to be added. The data (actual or predicted) are
translated to the effect term by means of a function that describes the relationship between the
variation of the measurable value and the effect of that variation. This function is commonly drawn
for each interaction on a case-by-case basis. Three typical functions are illustrated in Figure 2.9. All
these curves show that, as the value of the measured quantity increases, the adverse effect on the
environment (E) also increases but that this relationship can take several forms. The value of E
ranges from 0 to plus or minus 1.0, with the positive sign implying beneficial impact and the negativ