Mill Vs. Kant Essay

774 words - 4 pages

“We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate anyone among us who does.” This is the United States Air Force Academy honor code which every officer must swear by when he enters into office. But is this code meant to be followed with absolutism – without fail – even when one might benefit oneself or another individual with a white lie? What happens when an officer attends a dinner party with his wife and is approached by the hostess, asking whether he liked his meal, when indeed he did not? Is the officer obligated by the honor code he swore to uphold to tell the truth, or should he preserve the feelings of his hostess?
John Stuart Mill believed in a theory of Rule-Utilitarianism, where ...view middle of the document...

Promises cannot exist without the idea that promises are to be kept. Because of this contradiction, lying fails the test. Kant believed that because we cannot be certain of an outcome, the morality of how we act must be judged on the motive or intent behind their action.
I believe that in the dilemma I proposed, Mill would lie to the hostess that the meal was good, while Kant would be honest about his lack of enjoyment. Upon applying the Categorical Imperative, Kant would hold that lying should be absolutely prohibited, even in cases where the action would bring about more happiness than the alternative. Mill would use the GHP to determine that lying in this instance, considering it does not take away anyone’s rights and is therefore not a perfect duty, would bring about the greatest happiness. He would, therefore, tell the hostess he enjoyed the meal, but would still feel a bit bad about it, according to his Rule of Veracity. Even though Mill would say that this act would make him a slightly less trustworthy person, I think he would say that it was worth it to preserve the feelings of his...

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