Kantian Ethics vs. Utilitarianism Essay

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1. Explain Onora O’neil’s argument for preferring Kantian ethics to Utilitarianism.
2. How would Richard Taylor respond to O’neil’s defense of Kantianism?

In the following questions, Onora O’neil defends Kantian ethics while Richard

Taylor agrees more with the Utilitarian ethics view. To fully understand both views and

why each author defends their view, a brief introduction of each author and who they are

is necessary. Onora O’neil is a philosophy professor at Cambridge University, while

Richard Taylor also teaches philosophy, at the University of Rochester. He has written

many books on ethics and metaphysics. He strongly criticizes Kant’s philosophy by

saying it is
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This means the

person cannot consent to the act such as making a false promise or deceiving someone.

These acts are always wrong and unjust according to Kant. O’neil prefers Kantian ethics

because it is more restricted. In other words, Kantian ethics deals with those acts that are

intentional and individual maxims, which are our decisions toward an act. She prefers

Kant because of the requirements of justice. In Utilitarianism, for example, the death

penalty is enforced. Kant on the other hand as O’neil suggests that this is acting on some

maxims which imply that we are using others as mere means. O’neil prefers Kantian

ethics also, because justice requires that we act on no maxims that use others as mere

means. Also, as she mentions in her essay, “Kant and Utilitarianism Contrasted” because

it considers only the proposals for action that occur to them and they check (but they, I

mean the people who believe in either one of these views), that these proposals use no

other as mere means. In contrast with Utilitarian ethics, acting on these proposals could

mean they will use others and still go ahead anyways with the proposal or action for

Utilitarian ethics. But for Kantians, if the proposal or action will
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