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Morality Essay

1409 words - 6 pages

What is morality? What is being moral? Is it just being able to make the decision from right and wrong making the right decisions from good and bad? There are many great philopshers who had their own ideas on morality. Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Aristotle and Virginia Held all had different ideas and or approaches to resolving ethical problems. Though each of them differs from each other they each have their own positive and negative attributes.

Kant’s theory argues that the moral worth of an action is to be judged not by its consequences but the nature of the maxim or principle that motivated the action. He states the right actions are not necessarily those with favorable consequences but those performed with accordance with correct maxims. Kant also defines the correct maxims are the ones that can serve as universal laws (79). According to Kant there is a formula for the “Unversal Law,” First we wold have to figure out the general principle we would be actin on. We can use his example of borrowing money knowing you can pay it back. In order for us to universalize the maxim we must think if everyone were in “X” situation they would all do “Y.” So if everyone needed to borrow money knowing they could not pay it back they would then like and make a false promise. So this cold not be a universal law because if everyone started making false promises a promise would mean nothing and would only be using someone as a means. Kant also discusses categorical imperative and hypothetical imperative; categorical imperative is an unconditional moral law that applies to all rational beings and independent of any personal motive or law “to act for the state of duty”(81). One objection to Kants theory would be that duties that result form the categorical imperative can conflict. An example of the Nazi and Jews would work, we have a duty to protect ones life, so it Nazi were to knock on you door would you lie to save the life or don’t like and let them die.

Mils theory of utilitarianism is based on a principle of promoting happiness, un -like Kant who focus on the reason for the action and not the consequence Mill focuses on the consequence. He defines happiness as pleasure with the absence of pain. Utilitarianism helps solve problems by choosing which action will create more happiness (93). Mil believes that there is a difference in in quality and quantity of pleasure and placed more superiority over a mental pleasure than physical (94). So Mils says that if we focus on the consequences of our actions, and we strive for a consequence that leads to something that provides happiness that would lead to morality. Because we are humans we have the ability to learn and grow, so we are able to strive for a higher pleasure. Some people would object to Utilitarianism because you cannot predict the consequences and everyone has their own happiness, which can differ from person to person. One might also ask the question of how can you define pleasure? How...

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