In the dilemma of the construction of the Trans-mountain pipeline am going to
discuss it basing on the two ethical theories the utilitarianism and the ethical egoism.
Utilitarianism is teleological. It focuses on the outcomes of an act or rule. We ought to do that
action that produces the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people, the
principal of utility states that, the morally best alternative is that which produces the greatest
net utility, where utility is defined in terms of happiness or pleasure. It is good for a person to
act from those moral rules which would promote the greatest net benefit for the morally
beings affected rather than acting on the moral rules that will bring greatest harm for the
morally significant people.
A person is morally good if he or she acts from morally good intentions and the intention is
morally good if the motive is a duty. According to Kant, acting out of duty is acting out of
respect for the moral law. Respecting the moral law is doing what is required of us while
ignoring what we want. Kant also says that a person intention makes them morally a good
person and one cannot control the other person reactions to what he/she does but he/she can
control his/her intentions.
Basing on this dilemma, the construction of the Trans-mountain pipeline is not ethical because
the government of Canada wants to act against the people’s opinion. They are supposed not to
construct the Trans-mountain pipeline because the government of British Colombia and the
other citizen groups opposed the expansion, meaning this does not bring greatest happiness to
many people. The government of Canada is not morally good because it does not act
from the morally good intentions. They have an intention of constructing the trans-mountain
pipeline to benefit themselves not considering the other citizens. According to Kant, they are
trying to act out of duty since they decide to do what they want and ignore what they are
required to do by the moral law.
The moral law is that which morality requires of us thus this shows the disrespect of the moral
law. Kant also says that a person intention makes them morally good person and one cannot
control the other person reactions to what he or she does but he or she can control his or her
intentions. In this case, the government of Canada is not morally good because they do not
have good intentions. The government of Canada should control their intention to what they
are doing because they cannot control the reactions of the government of British Colombia and
the other citizens.
The categorical imperative is an imperative, an order or direction of what to do. The first
categorical imperative tells us when an action is wrong. So, we must avoid performing the
action. The government of Canada should use this imperative to tell if purchasing the pipeline
to continue the expansion despite opposition is wrong or right, this is for them to make the
right decision to be morally good and bring happiness and pleasure to all people.
According to Jeremy Bentham, instead of relying on vague ideas about feeling of conscience,
you classify and measure any action in terms of how many units of pain and pleasure it will
produce. By using the felicific calculus, one can determine the greatest happiness for the
greatest number. In this case, the government of Canada should use the felicific calculus to
determine if purchasing the pipeline for the construction of Trans-mountain will bring the
greatest happiness or harm to the other people. For instance, the calculation of pleasure or
intensity can be done as follows;
-construction of the trans-mountain produces 20 units of happiness and 25 units of
-construction of the trans-mountain gives 1000 people each mild pleasure (1000*2=2000 degrees of pleasure)
The second ethical theory is the ethical egoism. Ethical egoism is teleological. It is a normative
ethical theory that prescribe how people ought to behave. According to ethical egoism theory,
people are by nature inherently selfish and act in their own self interest. By doing so they may
accept short term effects for long term gain. Like in this dilemma, the government of Canada
have self interest, they are selfish they want to construct the trans-mountain pipeline despite
opposition from the government of British Colombia and the other citizens, they just want to
benefit theirselves without considering the other citizens opinion, they can even accept the
short-term effect of opposition for the long-term gain of the purchase of the pipeline to
continue the expansion. They are only motivated by the self interest. The reasons and
conclusion brings about argument. The government of Canada have their own reason of why
they want to construct the pipeline while the government of British Colombia and the other
citizen groups have their reasons of why they don’t want the construction of the pipeline.
According to Hobbes’ equality principal of nature, hath made man so equal in the faculties of
the body and mind as that, though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in
body or of quicker mind than another, yet when all is reckoned together the difference
between man and man is not so considerably. In this dilemma, the two government are equal
but there is this one government, the government of Canada that is manifestly stronger and
have quick minds.
The government of Canada should continue with their plans to purchase the pipeline to
continue with the expansion since people are by nature inherently selfish, they should act on
this principal while making decisions. Therefore, the government of Canada would have acted
morally since an act is said to be morally good only if it produces a net benefit to the individual
regardless of whether people are by nature like that or not. It is based on how they ought to
The ethical egoism theory has respect for the individual. It clearly defines if something is to be
good or bad or brings benefit or harm. The construction of the trans-mountain pipeline is good
and brings benefit to the government of Canada that is why they wanted to construct it while
the government of British Colombia and the citizen groups oppose the construction since they
see it as bad and it might bring harm to them.
This self interest of the government of Canada will conflict with the ability of them living
together successfully as a society. The government of Canada is forced to use a force rule of
purchasing the all pipeline for the expansion to satisfy their self interest, so they are forced to
harm others or do bad to others to benefit themselves.
In conclusion, the government of Canada should use the utilitarianism theory to make decision
because this will favour each one of them, they should not construct the pipeline because this
will not bring happiness to the other government and the citizens. The government of Canada
should act morally in this case for their sake and the others. They should not even go further to
purchase the pipeline for the construction instead they should use the felicific calculous to
determine what is good or what will bring greatest happiness among the people. Furthermore,
them making decision using the ethical egoism theory is not good or fair since it will act on
their self interest, that is to benefit themselves and to harm the others. In this case, they will
not be morally good because they will be acting in their own self interest and not considering
the others. So, the best ethical theory for them to use is utilitarianism theory.