Immanuel Kant And John Stuart Mill

Decent Essays

Two knowledgeable men, one says go right, the other, left. Who is right? Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill were both noted philosophers with opposing theories on what is moral. Each uphold different ways of observing what is right. The theory of utilitarianism held by Mill and universalism held by Kant has similarities and differences. Who stands correct, and who is mistaken?
Utilitarianism is the belief that decisions should be made based on how much pleasure they bring (MacKinnon and Fiala 2015). How many people will this please? How many will this hinder? Add each together and if the consequence of the action causes greater numbers of individuals to be happier than the action stands moral (Mill n.d.).
Universalism on the other hand, focuses on the intention rather than consequences. This concept led to Kant’s theory of the Categorical Imperative which states that acts should apply to all (MacKinnon and Fiala 2015). Littering for example, if done by all would cause major ecological issues and therefore is not moral. Universalism is a deontological belief that to be moral, one has a duty to accomplish what is right for all.
This is how these theories contain similarities. They both believe that people have a duty to undertake what is moral and believe in universal rules to accomplish morality (MacKinnon and Fiala 2015). Kant used the same term as Jeremy Bentham, Mill’s predecessor, in describing Deontological ethics. This is a theory that focuses on

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