Taking Rights Seriously

People, in general, tend to associate happiness with the chores and activities that bring gain welfare to them and dismiss things which do not meet their satisfaction levels of physiological and psychological concerns.

The notion, that happiness is always intrinsically morally good, is contradicting to the claim itself because a person might say that he wants to feed his home and that brings happiness to him, but if that happiness is a result of snatching the rights of others then this happiness would not be intrinsically morally good although the very outcome of his actions might result in overall happiness but the means to achieving that happiness has been unrighteous and self-contradicting which belies the true essence of the end outcome.

Looking into another perspective of philosophy, it is found that happiness is not a just claim of moral doings and undoing; it is a belief that incorporates a system of collective gain over collective pain or loss. In the chapter Reverse Discrimination of his book Taking Rights Seriously, Ronald Dworkin has highlighted a case of two students who were rejected admissions based on the racial discrimination and the theory and arguments provided in support and against them based on equal treatment, treatment as an equal and utilitarian principles.

It is visibly argued on the countless occasions in this chapter that the loss of an individual, no matter of what extent is a great concern but if nevertheless, is justified if it is outweighed by the overall gain of the community as whole. Happiness is then only intrinsically morally good if the loss of an individual is insignificant to the gain achieved by the community as whole, that is, it places a higher importance on the community rather than an individual when devising policies and standards by ensuring the best possible criterion of justice.

The basis of happiness and unhappiness are weighed in a moral context ranging from the arguments given by Jeremy Bentham and other notable philosophers. The question of whether happiness is intrinsically morally bad or good should be judged not only by the gain or pain incurred by a particular individual but also the consequences of these decisions a source of repercussions that these decisions can make in the future making of a system where societies as a whole can refer to a fixed moral principals which guide them through these circumstances and not left them bewildered.

When a student is rejected an admission to a law school, is it based on the racial discrimination or bases on the greater good of a society. In both cases it seems illogical to prove either the case. The society may promote a particular set of black lawyers as their representatives and might argue that blacks are the most appropriate representatives of their rights and if a white student is granted the permission in the law school for blacks on the basis of protecting the minority, then after completing his education he will defend the rights of white people and will become a force acting against he blacks.

So he is rejected the admission to the Law School of Washington on these grounds. But if he is granted the admission by setting aside the racial discriminations then he will not only set an example by doing the humanity a greater good through prevention of any such happenings in the future and also he will ensure that the blacks be supported wherever it is justified and will defend their case rather than acting against them.

Here, a need to understand the situation is imperative because the blacks might not feel comfortable at all by giving their case to a white man who can turn the tide against them, but here the society as whole must act maturely and show sense of trust derived out of the happenings. The state of happiness will then only be morally intrinsically good if it is not based on win-loose situation but it should be a win-win situation oft both the particular individual and as well as for the society as a whole.      

Based on the readings provided in the chapter Reverse Discrimination, it can be said that unhappiness is not always intrinsically morally bad, because sometimes when a good to a particular individual is done and the good exceeds the loss of society as whole, then although morally he is being bestowed upon, unhappiness resulted due to the overall loss of the society.

There is nothing paradoxical, ofcourse, in the idea that an individual’s rights to equal protection may sometimes conflict with an otherwise desirable social policy, including the policy of making the community more equal overall (Dworking 1977, p.226). Therefore, it is extracted that community as a whole to be placed more importance when we talk about equal rights and justice rather than a particular individual because unhappiness might be intrinsically morally bad in this case but the consequences are indicating towards a greater good.

When we take the case DeFunis, he should be granted the admission solely because the source of happiness was intrinsically morally good irrespective of the preference utilitarianism philosophy of happiness and the psychological utilitarianism philosophy of unhappiness. When happiness prevails through creating injustice in the society, it gives birth to discrimination and immoral practices that are detrimental to the welfare of the state in the long run.

These racial discriminations are damaging to the policies that a state and an institution devise up as a role model for the future generations and reversely immoral practices and injustice practices, no matter to what extent or to whom they are being forced upon, have to be rectified.  Repercussions of happiness derived from something intrinsically morally bad are fatal, because when a person do some bad unto others then his soul is not satisfied from within and sooner or later the happiness converts into frustration and the person starts rethinking on the sources and by the means he collected that happiness and if it dawns upon him that the happiness was derived from intrinsically morally bad principles then he tends to undo everything that he did in order to achieve that ephemeral state of happiness that had to end at some point in time.     

In similar way, unhappiness is always intrinsically morally bad because the law of reversibility will apply here and on every single human being. Equal treatment of every person ensures that equal distribution of rights, respect be given to every single human being irrespective of the race, class. Unhappiness results when the balance between human rights and justice disturbs and the moral principals that were supposed to defend the rights of a particular person actually work against him. In the case of DeFunis, he was unhappy because the principles of morality that were designed to defend him and his rights were outweighed by the justification of collective gain of the society and resulting in an individual loss.

Law School of Washington must not promote any policy which infact questions its very purpose of existence. These institutions are expected to make a sound policy free of any type of discrimination and must come up with a reasonable and argumentative policy which ensures equal protection of rights to blacks and whites and resulting in the collective gain of the society as well as protecting an individual’s rights.

Unhappiness therefore is always intrinsically morally bad because if doing something intrinsically morally bad creates happiness then it is only a misnomer and not placed in the right perspective and being misinterpreted. Happiness is on the other hand something which results due to doing intrinsically morally good to the masses irrespective of whether the society gains as a whole or an individual suffers a loss.

The utilitarian principle provides reasonable explanation to the philosophy of happiness but one has to look deeper into the rational circumstances when devising policies and framework that will form the code of conduct for the generations to come and they must have solid grounds to accept or reject any proposal with concrete justifications in support of it.

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