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.
Another problem with Bentham’s philosophy is that he would not distinguish between pleasure and pain, seemingly defining them as the same thing. In my opinion pleasure is generally a momentary thing whilst happiness is a more lasting and consistent thing. One might gain pleasure from sitting watching TV all day long. However in doing he is missing work and so will end up with no job and no money to support himself (and pay his TV licence!) and will presumably be left unhappy. So, as demonstrated by this example, pleasure is not necessarily happiness and Bentham, was mistaken to define them together
For instance, if a person were to ask me if his car was nice but I thought it was junk, Kant would disregard his feelings because telling him the truth is more important. Therefore, it is okay to perform illegal or unethical actions because morality and loyalty are more important. The problem would then arise: “What if everyone did this? What if everyone acted on impulse and did whatever they wanted? There would be no need for moral choices and
As the founder of utilitarianism, Bentham believes that an act is considered “just” if it produces the most happiness and the least pain for the greatest number of people affected directly, or indirectly by that action. For Bentham, happiness means giving sovereignty to pleasure over pain. Contrarily, Kant proposes that only duty and rules should dictate our actions, as the outcome is beyond our control. To Kant the only thing that matters is good will. His theory suggests that an action is either “just” or “unjust” regardless of the consequences of that same action. Bentham tried to attain his theory through hedonism and Kant his through universal maxims, neither theory beneficial to everyone. In addition, Jeremy Bentham’s theory is flawed because it only considers the most happiness caused by a moral action, it neglects minorities. Similarly, Kant fully ignoring the consequences of a moral action is not a worthy idea, because at times, we may have more than one duty or obligation to
Jeremy Bentham was one of the first philosophers to present a fully developed system of utilitarianism. He thought that we, as humans, should evaluate the consequences of our actions, determine whether each action is morally right or wrong, and tally the pleasure and pain that comes as a result of our actions. Is it right for me to donate to charity? Is it right for me to cheat on my government test? These questions we ask ourselves fall under Bentham’s theory known as act-utilitarianism because it focuses on the consequences of every action we perform. Bentham argues that the “greatest happiness of the greatest number of people” (Bentham) is how we should determine right from wrong. He also believed “mankind is under the
Bentham’s framework is a theory of Utilitarianism which can be summed simply in the more commonly used phrasing: “the ends justifies the means”. Or basically, that if the outcome of an action is perceived to be more beneficial than failing to perform the action, then the action used to achieve this outcome is
According to Atwell’s argument (13), Kant implied that nothing is good without a limitation except the good will. In an argument, Kant is claimed to admit that there are other good things that exist, yet all of them have limitations. The good things are grouped into three categories; the abilities of the mind, certain qualities of character and incidental gifts. Kant argues that when these good things are coated with evil will they never remain to be good. According to Kant, the goodwill can never be termed to be good because of anything that it accomplishes or its effectiveness to reach a given end. From his point of view, goodwill is not meant for the realization of good results neither does it act as a means of achieving a particular result. The goodwill, therefore, should never depend on any of the external factors for it is good in itself and is regarded for itself. However, Kant admits that the goodwill can only be good if it is willing.
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.
John Stuart Mill adds more arguments to Bentham’s view of Utilitarianism, which are important factors to consider when discussing this topic. Utilitarianism is the idea to promote the greatest happiness to the general society as opposed to oneself (Mill, 114). Each pleasure is said to have its own difference in quality, so people are able to make the choice between two pleasures (115). Mill believes mental pleasures reign more important than bodily pleasures seeing that bodily pleasures are seen as inferior to the greater good (115). It takes a higher grade of pleasures to make a human satisfied and pleased. “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied” (116). An important factor for choosing higher pleasures over inferior pleasures is that you only have time for one pleasure and if you chose the inferior pleasure it will be wasted (117). However the standards of what is right and wrong are not decided by the person’s own happiness but the happiness of everyone who is concerned in the decision (117). Being a Utilitarian forces you to stay an
Bentham argues that humans only commit actions on the bases of utility, which is the desire to enjoy happiness and prevent pain. He is certain that utility alone governs human morality and that the principles of utilitarianism are morally correct for every situation. Bentham claims that the purpose of morality is to increase the happiness of society and every action should aim to benefit the greatest number. He argues that without attaining happiness for the greatest number, society becomes dysfunction. In Bentham’s perfect utilitarian society, individuals would put aside their personal desires which cause pain to society as a whole in order to promote universal happiness. Bentham, strongly suggests that utilitarianism has no uncertainties, period. After objective analysis under Utilitarianism, before committing any action an individual must first examine the happiness which can be extracted from the action and the potential harms that it can cause, if the action yields more pain to the greatest number it is immoral. Bentham concludes that pain can’t yield happiness and that for an action to be morally correct it must
In the beginning of “An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation” written by Bentham himself he first starts off by saying, “Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure” This is the basis of what the principle of utility is all about. Pain and pleasure are what dictate or motivate us to do everything in life. Bentham believes that a decision can be made depending on how much pain and/or pleasure it will bring to the greatest amount of people. So if a decision brings more pain than pleasure to society as a whole it is deemed as wrong and if a decision brings more pleasure than pain it is deemed as a worthy thing to do. Bentham states, “to prevent mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness to the party whose interest is considered: if that party be the community in general, then the happiness of the community: if a particular individual, then the happiness of that individual.” The way
Another key strength to the theory is the concentration on motivation. The motive for which an individual acts has more validity then the unknown consequences that lie ahead. According to Kant we are motivated by our duty, and we know that motivation comes from an internal source. Motive provides substance to personal decisions and choices that are made. In order to feel a duty to react or act in a certain manner, an individual uses internal reasoning when making decisions. As moral agents who have the ability to reason Kant’s theory is right on the target. We will consciously make decisions by the things or factors that we are motivated by. I feel that it is safe to say that most people actions are guided by motives whether they are morally correct or not.
Bentham’s concern was upon utilitarianism which assumes the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers. He believes that individuals weigh the probabilities of present and future pleasures against those of present and future pain (Postema, 1998).
According to Bentham, all human beings are governed by two sovereign aspects: Pleasure and pain while each individual accepts the fact that we desire pleasure and unwilling to encounter pain. Then, he came up with his Principle of utility where:
Kantian ethics emphasizes on two conditions for an action to be morally good. The first, that an action only has moral worth if it is done for the sake of duty. The second is that an action is considered right if its maxim can be willed as a universal law. Kantian ethics then is working on the basis of duty and universality. In failing to recognize the multiple aspects of morality, Kantian ethics shows inadequacy as a moral theory. (Hinman, 2008)