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Utilitarianism vs. Kantianism: Understanding the connections

As cited in Jones (2001), Russel Hardin defines utilitarianism as the moral theory judging the goodness of the results of our actions and securing the greatest benefit to all concerned. Being frequently associated with consequentialism, the consequences of the action are of utmost importance because it determines how good the action was as the action is implemented. (p. 24). Kantianism, on the other hand centralizes on doing what keeps the dignity of an individual, despite the consequences of his actions. The rise of morale of an individual is its main focus.

Kantianism is often contrasted with consequentialism, but after some time, a consequentialist normative theory arose, making another theory called ‘Kantian Consequentialism’. Utilitarianism and Kantianism are contradicting theories. The former is for the good of the beneficiaries of the action, while the latter is for doer of the action. The rise of Kantian Consequentialism provided the bridge to resolve certain difficulties in choosing between morale, whether to do or not to do an action, and the consequences of doing or not doing the action (Cummiskey, 1996, pp.

5-6). In my own analysis, utilitarianism and Kantianism meet at some point. Intelligent weighing of decisions should be an attribute of an individual. Instances that the doer of the action benefits from the consequences of his action are possible scenarios, which gave rise to the Kantian Consequentialism. Immanuel Kant was able to defend some of the issues that completely separate utilitarianism from Kantianism. Kantian consequentialism, as mentioned above, does not solve all the conflicts between the two theories.

An example of a situation is a court trial. The judge only favors either the defensive party or the offensive party upon examining the substantial information gathered during the trial. As the judge’s decision is read, and for example the defensive party won the case, the effect of the decision is just the consequence of the intelligent decision making of the judge. The defensive party would not mind the consequences of the judge’s decision against the offensive, but rejoices for the victory, boosting the defense’s morale.The defensive party exhibited the Kantian characteristics and disregarding the utilitarian concept in terms of its effect on the other party.


Cummiskey, D. (1996). Kantian consequentialism. Retrieved May 3, 2009, from http://books. google. com/books? id=mcRJFnRKlAoC&pg=PA10&dq=kantianism&lr=&as_brr=3#PPA5,M1 Jones, C. (2001). Global justice: defending cosmopolitanism. Retrieved ay 3, 2009, from http://books. google. com/books? id=UNIoLwkdMiMC&pg=PA23&dq=what+is+utilitarianism%3F&lr=&as_drrb_is=b&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=2000&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=2009&as_brr=0&as_pt=ALLTYPES#PPA24,M1

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