Was Killing the Ohio State Attacker the optimific action?


On Monday, November 28, 2016, Abdul Artan attacked 11 pedestrians on Ohio State University’s campus. Artan, who is a student at the university, ran onto a sidewalk with his car, striking six people. He then got out of his car and began attacking people with a butcher knife, cutting five people. Artan was shot down by a campus police officer to stop the attack.

Campus officials have began investigating Artan, to find out what led to this attack. In a previous interview published in the school newspaper, Artan did express his concerns with other people’s perceptions of him, because of his Muslim religion. He expressed fear of not being able to pray freely without other people fearing his next action. Officials are wondering if his fear of students on campus may have led to the attack.

Ethical Analysis:

John Stuart Mill says that utilitarianism is a principle that defines an action as right, as long as it promotes happiness. An action is wrong according to the amount of unhappiness or pain it produces. Mill also says that an action is ‘optimific’ if it produces the greatest balance of good and bad.

Because Artan began to inflict pain on 0ther students and could have possibly taken some of their lives, does that mean killing him was the optimific action? Taking one life to save potentially hundreds could potentially count as the an optimific action.

An action is right according to the amount of happiness, or intended pleasure it produces. In this case, the officer saved hundreds of lives on the Ohio State University campus, which would justify his actions.

I personally believe that there could have been another way to end the situation without killing the attacker. Because he was armed with just a knife, police could have possibly tased the suspect to avoid taking his life. The officer did have to make a decision quickly to save many lives. However, I believe that things could have possibly been done differently.


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