Statute should be passed which would impose civil and/or criminal liability for a failure to rescue. The duty to rescue should be imposed as a mandate subject to criminal and civil liability because it is a positive obligation which can benefit people. This duty finds support in the utilitarian principle. This principle is a normative theory which “explains all of morality and political justice in terms of positive obligation – the single positive obligation to benefit people as much as possible” (Murphy, 2001). In this case, the utilitarian principle emphasizes that the morality of actions is based on the obligation to benefit people. The earliest philosophers and economists Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill discuss that actions are right if they bring happiness and they are wrong if they bring about the opposite of happiness. In this case, happiness should be brought to the one performing the action and the person affected by such action (West, n.d). In fulfilling one’s duty to rescue, benefit and happiness is surely brought upon the rescued; and happiness is also felt by the rescuer. Based on this theory, legislation which imposes civil and/or criminal liability to those who fail to rescue is justified because it benefits the rescued and the rescuer. Granting that the benefit to the rescuer may also be based on an egoistic need to make oneself look or feel good, this egoism still does not negate the validity of the duty to rescue. Based on the utilitarian theory, “it is possible for the right thing to be done from a bad motive” (West, n.d). Therefore, even if a person’s motive in rescuing may be bad or selfish, it still does not diminish his obligation or duty to rescue.
The very essence of utilitarianism is rounded up in the query, “What ought a man to do?” The answer is that he ought to act in order to produce the best possible ...
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