Utilitarianism vs. Deontology: Piracy on the Internet

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Philosophy 1009: Ethics and Society Final Essay – Deontology and Utilitarianism Will McIntosh In today’s technological age, people are becoming more and more connected via the Internet. Perhaps the most controversial form of this connection is torrenting. What is torrenting and why do people use it? A torrent is a very small index file used by a torrent program. It adds the user’s computer to what’s known as a “swarm” of users and from these users, pieces of a file are downloaded and then re-uploaded to other users in the same swarm. The files most often associated with torrents are copyrighted and taking part in the downloading/uploading of them is widely known as “piracy”. In order to keep this essay within the required constraints, the moral dilemma I will focus on in regards to piracy is the piracy of Television shows. People are becoming increasingly aware of websites on the Internet that host television shows for their convenient viewing, free-of-charge. Despite the attractiveness of this service, it is considered in most countries to be an illegal infringement on the copyrights of the television channels that originally purchased the works for broadcasting. The dilemma faced by viewers is whether or not it is wrong for them to view their favourite show at their convenience on one of these websites despite these legal issues. I will analyze this issue from two basic ethical points of view: deontological and utilitarian. Based on the results of these analysis, I will conclude with a summation of which I find to be more compelling and why. Deontology is form of normative ethics that judges the morality of an action based on the action’s adherence to a rule or rules. Doing the right thing is described by imperatives (commands). These imperatives come in two forms: hypothetical and categorical. Utilizing Immanuel Kant’s view on deontology, I will focus
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