As individuals form societies to assure their self-preservation and self-interest, they establish customs that distinguish one group of individuals from another. As a means of societal norms, customs tend to influence behaviors of individuals who both practice certain habitual activities and maintain commonly recommended ethics. Various geopolitical and cultural characteristics allow development of diverse customs that cause difficulties in understanding moral values of other societies. In particular, the passage from Herodotus describes how the differences in morality between two customs hinder achieving cooperation and mutual agreements. However, theoretical approaches attempting to find ethical similarities in the foundations of diverse customs can provide common grounds to overcome misconception and miscommunication between societies. The consequentialist and deontological perspectives of Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill demonstrate that customs with contrasting ethics can be understood by focusing on ramifications of customary actions and duties of individuals.
In “Utilitarianism,” John Stuart Mill emphasizes that the ethics of individuals and societal system are reflected in their moral value, such as happiness or pleasure. He argues that individuals only focus on maximizing their happiness in life by either preventing pain or attaining things that bring pleasure (May 46). From his utilitarian perspective, individuals pursue happiness through tangible items and valuable qualities because happiness is “the only thing desirable, as an end, [and] all other things being only desirable as means to that end” (May 50). Every individual’s behavior and decision is judged by the extent of happiness and its success in the promotion of happiness. Therefore, it is likely that individuals’ desire for happiness is reflect on their actions and societal system they preserve.
As the ultimate goal of life, happiness is highly valued and pursued by individuals, allowing them to be on common ground despite ethical dissimilarities. For example, although Callatians’ funeral ceremony is different from Greeks’ ceremony, their customary and cultural differences can be overcome by looking at the purpose of these procedures. Both racial groups attempt to worship ancestors through their unique funeral services; however, the fundamental reason for the funerals is to attain happiness by showing respect to the deceased who will be happy to be respected by offspring. Regardless of funeral methods, the ramifications of their behaviors are to pursue and promote happiness. The similarity that both racial groups have emphasizes happiness, indicating that they can overcome the differences in their contrasting customs if they draw attention to the ramification of customs.
In contrast, Immanuel Kant suggests that duty and good will of individuals are more significant in judging customary actions than focusing on simple consequences of the actions. Deontological Kant...