John Stuart Mill 's Utilitarianism And Immanuel Kant 's Categorical Imperative

1487 WordsApr 14, 20176 Pages
A famous psychological and philosophical topic is the trolley question. The trolley question, in variant ways, asks people how they would handle life and death decision making or what is morally good versus what is morally evil. This question falls under the umbrella of moral philosophy, also known as ethics, which asks questions of morality. There are a vast number of moral philosophies one can align themselves with, but two major categories of moral philosophy are the most popular and the most debated. These are John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism and Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative. In looking at the three trolley cases, one can align themselves with either Mill, Kant or create their own perspective. Utilitarianism is…show more content…
By this the objector is saying that reducing life to its total pleasure is disregarding many facets of the human experience. Even farm animals and insects are capable of pleasure, so what would be the defining factor between humans and pigs? Mill replies by saying that we can distinguish between high pleasures and lower pleasure. High pleasures are intellectual in nature, such as winning a game of Monopoly that requires strategic skills. Lower pleasures are simpler pleasures, like the excitement one can get from a piece of candy. Both of these are pleasure-filled, however winning the game of Monopoly would be considered a more intense and higher pleasure that only humans can attain. While utilitarianism is a valid perspective for many, the categorical imperative is another popular choice of moral philosophy. The categorical imperative is Kant’s superordinate principle of moral beings. He believes that what is morally correct needs to be done at all times. The categorical imperative has various renderings with different language to mean all the same thing. For the trolley cases, focusing on Kant’s Formula of Humanity is the most compatible. This formula is also known as The Formula of the End in Itself. The Formula of Humanity states “Always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, as an end in itself, never as a mere means to an end”. Writer Onora O’Neil explains Kant’s perspective in her own simpler way. Her
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