Kant begins the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals by outlining four principles of morality. The first principle of morality, which will be explored in this paper, states that actions are only morally good if they are undertaken from a sense of duty. Kant subsequently develops this principle as the categorical imperative of morality. This paper begins with a comprehensive description of the categorical imperative, its contrast to the hypothetical imperative, and its role in Kant’s moral theory. In the second section of the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant introduces the idea of universal maxims and their importance in morality. Thus, this paper will examine maxims and the connection between universality and morality. Finally,
Stemming from the 19th century, a group of British philosophers, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill formed a set of basic principles to address social problems in England. Jeremy Bentham was inspired by the ideas of hedonism where happiness is equated to pleasure, thus he de developed a system of Utility Calculus. One of his followers, John Stuart Mill, however was dissatisfied, so he redeveloped the system into what is largely known today as the classic ethical theory of “Utilitarianism.”
The aim of this paper is to clearly depict how John Stuart Mill’s belief to do good for all is more appropriate for our society than Immanuel Kant’s principle that it is better to do what's morally just. I will explain why Mill’s theory served as a better guide to moral behavior and differentiate between the rights and responsibilities of human beings to themselves and society.
To be able to reach this point, Kant used the process of elimination between inclination, prudence, and duty. In his paper, Kant explains that a person cannot achieve good will if they use inclination (what you desire) because to him, this doesn’t constitute moral actions. For example, in Kant’s eyes a parent who takes care of their children because is what they desire to do because they love them shouldn’t be morally praised because they are doing it for themselves rather than doing it because they acknowledge they have an obligation and it is the right thing to do to fulfill that obligation. He continues and goes on to refute prudence (rational self interest). To better understand this concept, we can think of the example of a lady who believes she can earn a greater income if she cheats her customers, but refuses to do so, not because she knows it’s the wrong thing, but because she fears being caught and losing her customers. By providing this example,
Kant’s ethics is the most influential expression of an approach to ethics known as deontology, which is often contrasted with consequentialism. The distinctive feature of deontology is that it approves or disapproves of actions in and of themselves. For instance, according to Kant, lying is always wrong because we cannot will it as a universal maxim that lying is okay. The consequentialist view, by contrast, argues that moral value lies not in our actions but in their consequences. The utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill is one of the most influential forms of consequentialist ethics. Mill argues that we should always aim at ensuring the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people and that, for instance,
The phenomenon of morality has fascinated people for centuries. Since the development of this phenomenon, humans have longed to discover the good and bad in both their actions and themselves. Naturally, countless philosophers have struggled to answer this question of morality. Although none have successfully found a definite answer, they have exhausted an abundance of ways to attack the question. One philosopher, in particular, by the name of Immanuel Kant, attempted to determine the morality of actions by focusing on their nature. As Kant developed his theory, his approach toward proving moral knowledge soon became widely known as Kantian deontology.
Utilitarianism is one of the most commonly used ethical theories from the time it was formulated by Jeremy Bentham and John Stewart Mill in the nineteenth century. In his work, Utilitarianism, Bentham “sought to dispel misconceptions that morality has nothing to do with usefulness or utility or that morality is opposed to pleasure” (MacKinnon, 2012, p. 53). To simplify the utilitarian principle, which is one of utility, one can surmise that morality is equated with the greatest amount of utility or good for the greatest number of people (MacKinnon, 2012). Also, with its orientation to the “end or goal of actions” (MacKinnon, 2012, p. 54), Utilitarianism thus, espouses the consequentialist principle, e.g., the evaluation of any human act lies not so much in the nature of the act or the drive behind the act but rather the result of the act (MacKinnon, 2012).
It isn’t moral if someone is expecting something out of the goodness they have done, because by expecting an award for your actions, it defeats the purpose of the good deed and makes it bad. I also agree with concept of doing something with a moral foundation rather than doing something for the possible benefits from the outcome. By doing something with good intentions, it allows a good outcome for the person doing the good deed since they would feel content with whatever the outcome is since it was done with a good heart. Something that I don’t agree on is Kant’s view on goodwill and happiness. According to Kant, having a good will is the necessity for deserving happiness. However, possessing a good will does not guarantee happiness. According to Kant, possessing a goodwill requires one to act in accordance with the moral law and also to be motivated to perform actions with a sense of moral duty. His theory also frequently requires one to perform actions that conflict with one's own happiness. One of the paradoxes of Kant's moral theory is that he believes that only those who possess a perfectly good will deserve to be happy, but in turn possessing a good will makes individuals less likely to achieve
According to Kant, the moral worth of an action consists not in the consequences that flow from it, but in the intention from which the act is done. The motive that confers moral worth on an action is the motive of duty. Motive of duty means doing the right thing for the right reason. Only actions done out of the motive of duty have moral worth.
Along with other noted philosophers, John Stuart Mill developed the nineteenth century philosophy known as Utilitarianism - the contention that man should judge everything in life based upon its ability to promote the greatest individual happiness. While Bentham, in particular, is acknowledged as the philosophy’s founder, it was Mill who justified the axiom through reason. He maintained that because human beings are endowed with the ability for conscious thought, they are not merely satisfied with physical pleasures; humans strive to achieve pleasures of the mind as well. Once man has ascended to this high intellectual level, he desires to stay there, never descending to the lower level of
Immanuel Kant states that moral law must be discovered through a priori investigation in order for it to be universal. He rejects that moral law can be discovered through empirical feelings or experiences. He says, “All philosophy insofar as it is founded on experience may be called empirical, while that which sets forth its doctrines as founded entirely on a priori principles may be called pure” (Kant 1). Kant values a priori knowledge on a higher level than empiricism when it comes to establishing universal moral standards due to its “pure” objectivity.
Immanuel Kant is said by many to be one of the most influential “thinkers” in the history of Western philosophy (McCormick, n.d.), this being said, most of his theories continue to be taught and are highly respected by society. Kant was a firm believer that the morality of any action can be assessed by the motivation behind it (McCormick, n.d.). In other words, if an action is good but the intention behind the action is not good, the action itself would be considered immoral. Those who follow the utilitarian view would disagree, arguing that an action which benefits the most number of people would be considered moral regardless of the intentions behind it. Kant argues that the intention behind an action matters more than the number of people benefited. This theory of morality falls hand in hand with Kant 's concept of good will, and through examples I hope to explain to readers, in a simple way, what Kant was trying to convey.
Kant would disagree with those who do the right thing for the wrong reason. We, as a society and individuals in that society, should act in ways not because it’s easy for us or more favourable, but because its right and moral.
Immanuel Kant adheres to Deontological ethics. His theory offers a view of morality based on the principle of good will and duty. According to him, people can perform good actions solely by good intentions without any considerations to consequences. In addition, one must follow the laws and the categorical imperative in order to act in accordance with and from duty. Several other philosophers such as Hannah Arendt discuss Kant’s moral philosophy. In her case study: “The Accused and Duties of a Law-Abiding Citizen”, Arendt examines how Adolf Eichmann’s actions conformed to Kant’s moral precepts but also how they ran of afoul to his conception of duty. In contrast, John Stuart
In accordance with Kantian ethics, to determine the moral worth of an act, one must first ask if the reason of the act is worthy of respect. “A dutiful action from any motive, aside from duty, does not express a good will.” An action has moral worth only if it expresses a good will. Acts that have other sorts of motives have no genuine moral worth. This shows that the motive of the act is what makes the act moral. Feelings and desire as a motivation of an action is on a lower classification of morality, but why then is that acts done out of feeling and desire have less moral worth than that of duty. Nothing is actually wrong or less worthy if one acts out inclination since there is a desire to do what is good (Johnson,