Essay on The Golden Rule in Kant and Mill's Ethical Theories

Better Essays

Ethics refers to what people consider good or bad and right or wrong. It is a theory dealing with values that relate to human behaviour; with respect to their actions and purpose. The two most important philosophers that deal with ethics are Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill. Kant’s ethical theory is Kantianism or deontological ethics. Mill’s ethical theory is utilitarianism. Both philosophers’ theories have many differences; Kant’s theory deals with conduct, seeking reason for good action in duty. Mill’s theory deals with consequences and maximizing human happiness. However both Kant and Mill’s ethics relate to the important biblical principal of the Golden Rule. What makes actions right? For some philosophers it is their …show more content…

Kant’s first formula: “The Formula of Universal Law: ‘Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law’ [Groundworks 4:421; cf. 4:402].” (Wood, A.W. 2005, p.135) This formula states that one should act in such a way that other people will learn from this action. That one is not to act in a way in which one would not be willing to allow others to act, for example expecting others not to lie, then one is required to do the same. Kant’s second formula: “The Formula of Humanity as End in Itself: “So act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or that of another, always at the same time as an end, never as a means’ [Groundworks 4:429; cf. 4:436].” (Wood, A.W. 2005, p.135) In other words this formula means that “Human beings have absolute worth, and every maxim we adopt should lead only to actions that always treat humanity, whether ourselves or others, as ends in themselves, and never simply as means to achieving our own ends.” (Mills Daniel, D., Mills Daniel. D.E. & Daniel, M. 2011, p.161) This categorical imperative simply states that people should always treat others with dignity, as an end and never use them as simple instruments. Kant believes that the consequences of an action are not what make it right or wrong, but that when doing

Get Access
Get Access