The Fight for Human Rights Essay

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Can you imagine a life without pre-meditated murder? In his movie Minority Report, Steven Spielberg brings this vision to reality in the trappings of a police state. The pre-crime unit is charged with the elimination of pre-meditated murder using three pre-cogs, humans with the ability to predict violent crime. Minority reports- sporadic, erroneous predictions- indicate the fallibility of this system of imperfect procedural justice. Civilians have their rights to privacy violated on a regular basis for collection of intelligence. This movie is chillingly pertinent in the real world, as today African-Americans and Muslim-Americans have their rights violated regularly in the name of security.

Thankfully, we have more than a Hollywood
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Mill’s view of utilitarianism commands a more complex look at utility and the greatest happiness principle than Bentham. Benthamites make little attempt to protect minorities, if in fact their suffering increases overall utility: “A measure of government… may be… dictated by the principle of utility, when… the tendency which it has to augment the happiness of the community is greater than any which it has to diminish it” (Bentham 1) In this, act utilitarianism, the overall utility of an action, taking into account potential resultant happiness or unhappiness, sanctions or rejects any given course of action. Mill cautions against this simplistic calculus. Instead, he embraces rule utilitarianism. His long-term view of utility examines “the whole past duration of the human species” (Mill 23) to isolate certain rules and patterns in human history which generally promote utility. Respect for rights of all individuals is one of these rules. Though the short term benefits of disregarding the rights of certain individuals may be tempting, Mill believes that “[t]he moral rules which forbid man to hurt one another” (58) or interfere “with each other’s freedom… are more vital to human well-being” (58). Mill accords the respect for rights- for him, a subset of justice- a disproportionate amount of utility: “justice is a name for certain moral requirements which, regarded collectively, stand higher in the scale of social utility, and are therefore of more paramount
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