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Kantian Vs Utilitarian Ethical Parameters Essay

999 words - 4 pages

The task that stands before me in this paper is to address two situations and determine the ethical parameters in which a person should act. The two philosophical approaches that I will examine the situations with the Kantian and Utilitarian point of view.

Kant deciphers his ethical questions by examining a person's motivation for performing an act regardless of the consequences. A person who utilizes the Kantian view believes that the only pure good is pure human reason without consequences. This pure human reason works without the influence of human emotions and desires. A truly good act as defined by Kant is performed because of an obligation to the categorical imperative. The objectives and personal agendas of the individual performing the act must kept separate and distinct.

Utilitarism makes ethical decisions based on the consequences of the action taken. Unlike the Kantian view the motives are not important just the consequences. The action is measured by how much happiness or sadness the action creates. The ideal ethical decision is the one that creates the most happiness and the least amount of sadness. It is nearly impossible to have different degrees of freedom since a person would have to experience all the various degrees of freedom to determine what degree of happiness is better than the other.

The first situation deals with a thief who stole from the millionaire. In this case, Kant would examine the motives of the thief. The thief is stealing for himself regardless of his situation. Even if his family is poor and struggling. The thief is still furthering himself. The reasons for the thief stealing from the wealthy man doesn't matter. Stealing is against the universal law that it is wrong to steal from another person. This applies to everyday life and decision-making occurrences, needs and wants are thrown out the window. Any form of stealing is wrong according to Kant. This is a strong argument because it stands firm in that it is wrong to steal. We are in a society that has laws and regulations against stealing this keeps order in society. The Kantian view does not waver despite the possible physical and emotional needs of the thief. Kant doesn't make exceptions for the poor and unfortunate.

A person using the Utilitarian ethic code would look at the situation then examine the consequences of the action taken. The millionaire doesn't have a clue that the money is gone. As a result of this stealing the man has brought happiness to himself, his family, and to the community around him because they don't have to support them. The heavy burdens of poverty and despair have been vanquished. The burdens of oppression are availed and the family can rise in class and social status among their peers. The only downside is the fear of being exposed. If the thief was found out he could lose his freedom, possessions, and respect of his...

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