What Is Kant's Principle Of Utility?

Decent Essays
Jeremy Bentham first had the key concept of the principle of utility (Perry 457). It takes into account the outcome of utility or happiness an action produces, aiming for the most happiness and the least amount of sadness or pain. (Driver para. 1) Bentham believed the overall satisfaction of the majority should outweigh the minority (Driver section 1). This can be celebrated, but may be criticized as well. If 51 percent of the people are happy and 49 percent are not, is it ok for the minority to be completely left out to dry? As he continues in his work, “Actions are approved when they are such as to promote happiness, or pleasure, and disapproved of when they have a tendency to cause unhappiness, or pain” (Driver section 2.) This also took…show more content…
For example, the axe murderer example illustrates this perfectly. If someone with an axe is coming to look for your friend and he asks where your friend is, it is not ok to lie under Kant’s perspective. That friend has more value to you than other people, like the axe murderer. So following Kant’s theory of ethics in this instance would lead to more sadness and the unnecessary blood shed of your friend. Kant says that if in that instance you lie, and the murderer then still stumbles upon your friend, then you are responsible for anything that happens. But how can someone be responsible for the behavior of the man with the axe? We are not responsible and that is where I believe Kant’s argument falls flat. Kant also states that, “Moderation in the affections and passions, self-control and calm deliberation are not only good in many respects…” (Kant excerpt 16) The caveat in that statement is that he believes humans should always behave in that manner and should take in consideration of their own self interests. The only problem with that is that a majority of the population already take themselves into account before they make a decision and don’t follow a strict set of guidelines that might not be beneficial to them and lead to less utility in the
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