Rule Utilitarianism on Global Warming

Table of contents

Thesis Statement

Rule Utilitarianism requires people to have moral responsibility to help reduce global warming.

Under the theory of utilitarianism, rule utilitarianism (RU), as a theory of action, views that the right action is based on the good consequences of a rule that is designed to maximize welfare or what is good which everyone should perform (Carson & Moser, 1997; Smith, 2001). If a rule-utilitarian thinks that right actions which are based on moral codes for the good of the society, everyone is, therefore, required to follow environmental law that aims to protect the lives of people, especially, in the future by taking care and preserving the natural resources.

Natural preservation is the key to help reduce global warming because it minimizes or discourages consumption or use of fossil fuels, oil, coal, nitrogen fertilizers, and other corbon emitting substances. In the nineteenth century, the United States have focused on romanticism and utilitarian as the underpinning approach to environmentalism regarding nature and science- and technology-based conservation of natural resources (Smith, 2001). Singer (2002) supports the view that utilitarianism, in addition to democratic and pragmatic theories, is a moral outlook that answers the questions about the morality of globalization like “Who should be responsible for slowing global warming?”

Although Singer does not much care about the term utilitarianism, he believes its value is the key to “raise the standards at which the human race lives as a whole to the highest aggregate level, which entails focusing upon the disadvantages of the developing world, and thinks our obligations to all members of genus Homo have about the same standing as obligations to our nation, to our ethnic group, and even our own children” (Easterbrook, 2002, p. 47). Singer recognizes the fact that the grave human consequences of global warming, needs a reform that is of high moral priority. Utilitarian approach is a means of practicing moral responsibility in helping to reduce global warming since it requires people do act according to set of rules that prioritize the welfare of the majority.

However, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is not contributing much to environmental preservation in implementing international policies. Instead, Singer (2002) deplores that the WTO prioritizes free trade over the rights of human resources and animals and the environmental integrity. For smith (2002), utilitarian conservation is needed to emphasize the role of natural resources in supplying material needs and the role of nature in promoting economic growth. Accordingly, the utilitarian approach in environmental preservation assumes that people’s may exploit the natural resources in attaining maximum sustainable yield by safety measures through knowledge and management like mapping, systematic measurement, statistical representation of forests, scientific techniques to predict responses to management, assemblage of tracts of land large enough to allow for economies of scale, and bureaucratic management to assure consistency and uniformity.

In addition, the governments should take precedence over local claims to resources to ensure the total sum of benefits through production-based management and higher levels of political control. In the light of RU, which RU maintains that specific rules should be identified for the greatest utility, the rules can be “selected, maintained, revised, and replaced on the basis of their utility and not on any other basis” (Frankena, 1973 , p.39). Therefore, it is important that governments and international policies should design environmental law that promotes environmental preservation instead of overexploitation of human and natural resources. Also read utilitarianism and business ethics essay

RU views that rights actions should produce positive outcomes like benefits or goodness for the society and it states that people have moral responsibility to help reduce global warming by acting in accordance to that law that promotes environmental protection and natural preservation for the common good. Utilitarian conservation is one way to regulate environmental practices while individuals can contribute in simple ways like using environment-friendly materials, becoming vegans or vegetarians, utilizing solar energy, etc.


Carson, T. L. & Moser, P. K. (eds.) (1997) Morality and the Good Life. New York: Oxford University Press. 379.
Easterbrook, G. (2002) Greatest Good for the Greatest Number: Philosopher Peter Singer Will Anger His Traditional Lefty Fans with a Clear-Eyed Account of the Benefits of Globalization. Washington Monthly 34(11) November 2002, 47+.
Frankena, W. (1973) . Ethics. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.. Prentice-Hall.
Singer, P. (2002) One World: The Ethics of Globalization. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Smith, D. S. (2001) Place-Based Environmentalism and Global Warming: Conceptual Contradictions of American Environmentalism. Ethics & International Affairs 15(2), 117+.

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