Comparsion Of John Stewary Mill And Emanuel Kants Philosophies On Morality

2288 words - 10 pages

Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill are philosophers who addressed the issues of morality in terms of how moral traditions are formed. Immanuel Kant has presented one viewpoint in The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals that is founded on his belief that the worth of man is inherent in his ability to reason. John Stuart Mill holds another opinion as presented in the book, Utilitarianism that is seemingly contradictory with the thoughts of Kant. What is most distinctive about the ethics of morality is the idea of responsibilities to particular individuals. According to Kant and Mill, moral obligations are not fundamentally particularistic in this way because they are rooted in universal ...view middle of the document...

Or more clearer stated as "better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied", as the fool would only be of a different opinion because he did not know both sides of the question. By this statement, Mill has rejected the identification of the concept "happiness" with "pleasure and the absence of pain" and the concept "unhappiness" with "pain and the absence of pleasure." Although his position was based on the maximization of happiness, he distinguished between pleasures that are higher and lower in quality.Mill's "principle of utility" seeks for the logical rationality of ethics through the consequences of actions as the consideration determining their morality, thus the acquisition of happiness as opposed to the avoidance of pain. Utilitarianism may be viewed as an instance of a more general theory of right consequentialism, which holds that right and wrong can only be assessed by the goodness of consequences. This general kind of theory can perhaps be most easily understood by considering the form of consequentialism. Consequentialism is that an act is right if, of those available to the agent at the time, it would produce the greatest overall net value in the end. Utilitarian views are based around the concept of attaining happiness and Mill maintains hedonism; happiness or pleasure is the only intrinsic good for persons. Mill believes, that a hedonist should, maintain that pleasures involving cultivated intellectual, emotional, and imaginative faculties are intrinsically better. In Mill's utilitarian theory, he holds that there are qualitative pleasures as well as quantitative. Hedonism shows that the intellectual pleasures are better pleasures because they are in better quality than those of purely extrinsic value. Kant sees this distinction and goes on to explain that a numerical value cannot be placed on something that has intrinsic value.Kantian theory on morality is stated in terms of his ethics of pure duty. What is the duty that motivates our actions and gives them moral value? Kant distinguishes two kinds of law produced by reason. Kant believes that rational agents are moral agents, that every moral agent has the same ability as any other and therefore must be given consideration and respect. Hence, moral agents cannot be used to reach an end but are ends in themselves. Given some end we wish to achieve, reason provides a hypothetical imperative, or rule of action for achieving that end. A hypothetical imperative says that if you wish to buy a new house, then you must determine what sort of houses are available for purchase. Deriving a means to achieve some desired end is the most common use of reason.However, Kant shows that the acceptable formation of the moral law cannot be merely hypothetical because our actions cannot be moral on the ground of some conditional purpose or goal. Morality requires an unconditional statement of one's duty and reason produces that absolute statement for moral action. Kant believes that reason...

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