Abdullah Ocalan, head of the PKK which killed thousands of Turkish citizens, is now kept in a prison which provides doctor control, healthy food, an LCD television and most importantly, a warm bed. On the other hand; Mehmet Y. is a harmless Turkish citizen who has a brain disease which cannot be fixed without a particular amount of money, hasn’t got enough money to buy a newspaper, hasn’t had anything rather than bread in the last four months and most important of all hasn’t got a warm bed.
In this situation, the Turkish Government had to follow one of the two paths: Either to kill the head of the terrorist group which is the right decision if the government is going to be just to his public; or, to be loyal to the laws and not kill him and also prevent a bigger war between the Kurds and the Turks. If the second is selected, a perfectly ‘’good’’ treatment of him is required so that death will be in less chances and nobody will think the government has inadvertently executed him. It is interesting to look at this dichotomy in Bentham and Mill’s utilitarian theories.
Bentham’s utilitarian theory suggests that ‘’the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people’’ ideology works the best for the public good. In the Abdullah Ocalan case, the government chooses not to take any risks and not to be tagged as ‘unjust’ or ‘barbaric’ in the West. This shows that not taking the risks and not making the country look ‘unjust’ to the West is considered as a higher pleasure than being ‘just’ to the citizens; however, it is not clearly seen whether the minority or the majority wins in this situation. So Bentham’s ideology is not enough for this particular event, however Mill’s ideology can be a key to this event, logical if considered that he came later than Bentham.
Mill’s ideology clearly states that ‘’being a dissatisfied man is better than being a satisfied pig’’. In the ‘Ocalan’ situation, the government is forced to make one of two choices; however, both choices are harmful so this can be inferred as a ‘lose, lose’ situation. Also being a satisfied pig or a dissatisfied man is a ‘lose, lose’ situation; so one can only choose what is the least harmful choice in this kinds of situations. When the Turkish Government chose not to kill Ocalan; although it seems unjust to the other citizens, it is less harmful for the government than being tagged as ‘unjust / barbarian’ and risking a bigger war. In this case Mill’s utilitarianism fits perfectly in the ‘Abdullah Ocalan’ situation.
Lastly, Mill’s utilitarianism has newer and stronger aspects than Bentham’s utilitarianism which can be seen in this particular case too. Ocalan’s case is a two-fold lose situation so it cannot be investigated with only Bentham’s utilitarianism but needs Mill’s utilitarian flexibility.