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Utilitarianism & Kantianism

John Stuart Mill’s Moral theory is often called utilitarianism. The theory’s originates from the Greek Philosopher named Epicrus. But generally it is usually known that the start was from Jeremy Bentham. Stuart’s father James Mill was the follower and supporter of the theories presented by Jeremy Bentham. James Mills was a friend of Jeremy. Stuart was brought up and taught the Jeremy’s views and so his interest developed that way. So he supported the views of Jeremy Bentham and contributed a lot for the support of him.

In utilitarianism there are two different approaches that exist, Act utilitarianism and Rule utilitarianism. The basic or main difference among these two utilitarianism approaches is that act utilitarianism evaluates or considers only the consequences or outcomes of the sole act while the rule utilitarianism evaluates the consequences or outcomes that result of subsequent a rule or law of conduct. According to act utilitarianism, the right or true action is the one which provides the greatest amount of pleasure or happiness to greatest number of people.

On contrary, the rule utilitarianism affirms that only those actions which are being followed through some set of rules or moral standards are the right actions and only those moral actions can create the highest happiness. Act utilitarianism states that these generalized rules are there as the guidelines for the people to follow but it is not essential to follow them as there is no assurance that these rules would provide them the highest possible pleasure of performing those actions.

But rule utilitarianism assures that only these moral actions can help the greatest number of people attain the greatest happiness or pleasure. For instance, act utilitarianism suggests that it is good to always converse truth but it isn’t necessary and the rule utilitarianism suggests that speaking truth every time is the right moral action through which highest pleasure can be enjoyed. Suppose another example for further distinguishing these two types of utilitarianism.

For instance, a person is not feeling well enough and has become seriously ill. He opt to visit a doctor at a hospital who after conducting several body tests came to know that he is suffering from an incurable and life threatening disease. Now the doctor is not sure whether to inform the patient or not about his severe disease. Here the point of thinking is that should the patient be told about the truth or should he be told about something other than the truth.

Now the act utilitarianism theory suggests that the patient should be lied since telling lie has a better consequence in the end as if the patient gets informed about his incurable disease he will further become depressed and his family would also feel disastrous and if truth is hidden from that person that he will remain happy and so his family and he would be able to spend his remaining days of life with pleasure and happiness. But the rule utilitarianism theory suggests that telling a lie would be morally a wrong action as the consequence would lead to dishonesty charges on part of the doctor in the future no one would believe doctors.

In general, the theory says that happiness is when a person maximizes pleasure and minimizes the pain. While on the other hand unhappiness is the opposite in which more is the pain while less is the pleasure. He says that the mental pleasures are the ones that are higher ones and other pleasures like physical pleasures as in physical satisfaction are the lower pleasures and this point against the Jeremy’s point who said that all the pleasures are equal. Mill believed this because people who have both physical and mental pleasures rate mental pressures as highly regard.

He also gave the statement which says that happiness calculus cannot actually calculate all the pleasures which was previously believed true by the followers of Jeremy Bentham. He says that happiness the only thing which we desire and it is an intrinsic desire and not for anything else. The basic aim is to reach the maximum happiness that will maximize the pleasures and minimize the pains and further adds that happiness is the end and all the other things are means to the ends. KANTIANISM & UTILITARIANISM: Kantianism is the viewpoint of Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher born in Kaliningrad, Russia.

The term Kantianism or Kantian is often used to portray modern-day positions in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and ethics. What a person wants to do and what he ends with is often different. Doing anything which a person wants to do will definitely give him immediate pleasure and happiness but it might not provide him happiness and benefit in the long run. Similarly, doing what one is been forced upon to do will not help him feel immediate happiness or gratitude but still he may end up achieving greatest pleasure in the long run. Basically this is the core purpose of Kantianism.

According to Kantianism, the aim of morality i. e. moral actions is not to achieve happiness, although if often helps you achieve the greatest pleasure or happiness in the long run. According to Kant, the basic aim of doing morality i. e. performing moral actions is to do the correct thing just for the sake of doing it. According to Kant, persons establish their opinions internally on what is right and wrong or what should be done and what shouldn’t be through their own self-sufficiency. According to Kantianism, the individuals determine their own behavior and are not carried away by the dictation of others.

For Kantian, the major concern is doing the right things for the right reasons and evades getting carried by others. The morality of Kantianism is not consequence based which refers that for Kant; actions are based on the motive or intention or will of the individual rather on the consequences or outcomes of the behavior. Stuart Mill’s theory utilitarianism supports the relativist approach rather than the absolutist one. The basic thing which it focuses is that the worth of any action can be determined by the satisfaction or utility or in other words, utility by doing a certain action determines its moral worth.

He says that an action is moral and good if the outcome of it is happiness and as soon as the outcome of a particular action reverses its direction from happiness the action becomes morally wrong. In Utilitarianism, happiness of all should be considered when making our decisions. This would ensure the total aggregate happiness for all. Every individual desires his or her happiness. Mill says that we cannot get to know whether a thing is desirable or not until it is actually desired by the people. But according to Kant the actions are being derived by the intention of an individual or motive or will and categorical imperative of an individual.

The significance of the categorical imperative is that one must do something in such a way that they can will that the dictum behind one’s actions can be visualize as part of the universal law (Keeled, 2008). DIFFICULTIES FACED BY KANTIANISM & UTILITARIANISM: There are certain difficulties that are being observed by using utilitarianism theory in making decisions. One can imagine a case that would be likely to happen in real life. Twelve or so individuals are ensnared in a cave and a man gets stuck in the entryway.

The only way for them to escape is to blow him out with blast. They do so, but not long afterwards, a nasty thought pops into the brains of one among them. He realizes that there was some alternative method available to them escaping without them having to kill the man (a back exit, etc. ). In real life, we’ll often be faced with circumstances like the one above. As a result, hasty decisions in order to benefit the most might have good intentions, but often alternative options are missed that would have provided in a higher amount of satisfaction for all.

Opponents of utilitarianism often argue that in real life we often only have a very limited amount of time to make important moral decisions or choices. Similarly, there are several problems that are also been by the theory of Kant i. e. Kantianism. Some critics have questioned that Kant’s theory can provide reasons to operate for any agent or instrument only because it relaxes on a highly questionable conception of agency, which refers to a conception that totally ignores that the standpoint of the agent involved in the theory is personal but Kant says it as an impersonal perspective.

Another argue that has been done on Kant’s theory that although the agent’s perspective is not impersonal but even considering it as impersonal doesn’t lead to any firm reason and it acts like a very weak point to provide the reasons to be concerned about each others interests morally. These objections are no doubt being made on both the theories of Kantianism and Utilitarianism. Every theory is constructed with a new or different standpoint but still there are several critics who have challenged certain components of these theories.

There is no way that these theories can prove these challenges fake or can prove them unjust as with every theory comes up a different altogether concept and so there is higher possibility that there will be some problems to it as well and so it is quite unlikely that these problems can be removed in the future as well.

Works Cited:

Keeled, Lisa. The Utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill. N. p. : n. p. , 2008. Print.

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