Philosophy Saving Private Ryan 1. What is the moral rationale behind risking eight lives to save one? How does this relate to Kantian and Utilitarian ethic? The moral rationale behind risking the eight lives to save one is that it is the soldier’s duty to do as they are told and to save the last remaining son of a family. Kant feels that the eight soldiers are treating Private Ryan as a means to and for their mission so they can get back and fight the war.
By treating Private Ryan as a mean of their mission he is also an end to their mission as well. Utilitarian ethic says to ac to promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number. For the eight soldiers to risk their lives for one man they are not doing the right thing according to Utilitarian. Since the greatest happiness does not come from helping one man and does not serve the greatest number, but rather putting the eight men into the war and fighting the Germans it creates the greatest happiness for the greatest number. . Do you think the mission would be justified only if Private Ryan subsequently contributed something outstanding to humanity? I feel if Private Ryan created a cure for cancer or aids, something that is killing a lot of people today, then the mission could be justified because Private Ryan would save many lives instead of just having just his own life saved. I feel my view is Utilitarian, because by saving Private Ryan you have saved thousands upon thousands of lives making the greatest happiness for the greatest number. 3.
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Should the Squad have attacked the Machine-gun nest or bypassed it in order to carry out their primary mission? I feel they should have attacked the machine-gun nest and agree with what Miller says in the movie about by leaving it alone you are leaving it to ambush another group of men to be killed and severely injured. This decision shows Utilitarian, because by destroying the machine-gun nest you risk losing men, but most likely have saved 20 or 25 men instead this creating the greatest happiness for the greatest number. . When Private Ryan was found, should he have been forced to leave with Miller and his mean? Or were they right to remain and try to stop the German advance? They were right remain there and try to stop the German advancement, because by leaving the Germans to advance they risk losing more men in the entire army, but by stopping the advancement of the German army they have helped stop the lose of many lives. Even though they risk Private Ryan’s life, as well as their own, they have stopped the deaths of many.
This view again is Utilitarian; because it generates the greatest happiness from the greatest number by having them remain there they have stopped the Germans from taking hundreds and hundreds of lives. 5. What if Private Ryan had been killed? Does that change our moral assessment of the mission? If Private Ryan had died then I feel that it does not change the moral assessment of the mission, because they had to still take the chance of losing eight lives to save one life. By doing this they also tried to save the last child of a family so he could return home, even though the mission would have been a failure.