Ethics: How Should I Live My Life

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April 15, 2011 How Should I Live? Immanual Kant vs. Jon Stuart Mill In their works “Principle of Utility” and the “Categorically Imperative” the philosophers Kant and Mill have addressed one of the most prominent questions humans have asked ourselves since the beginning of time; what are the fundamental moral principles that we should base our lives on? My intent is to show how each of these philosophers in their approach this subject yielding totally different results. I will compare and contrast and ultimately determine which of their philosophies I personally find better suited to my own way of life. I will also point out when sometimes you can have circumstances when they do not contradict each other. “Actions are right in…show more content…
Let’s continue now to examine Kant’s Categorical Imperative. The first formulation of which is something that reminds me somewhat to the Golden Rule, "Do Unto Others as You Would Have Others Do Unto You." (except the Golden Rule does not make for example a duty to be benevolent to others) “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it would become a universal law.” (p.851) Kant explains this by a series of example one of which goes something like this. If I run out of money I might be tempted to borrow some, even though I know I would be unable to repay it. I am acting on the maxim “Whenever I believe myself short of money, I will borrow money and promise to pay it back although I know that this will never be done” I cannot will that everyone should act on this maxim because if everyone asked for money but then would never pay it back nobody would believe the promise of the borrowers. A promise would lose its meaning. Therefore we could not borrow money under this circumstance as doing it would violate the categorical imperative Kant defines perfect duty as those which must be fulfilled under any circumstances and dictate a specific course of action; he defines imperfect duties as those which are more subject to circumstances and allow
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