On Utilitarianism And Kantian Ethics Essay

1914 words - 8 pages

1. Introduction
There is little doubt that Utilitarianism and Kantian Ethics are by far the two most important ethical theories throughout contemporary philosophy. Though both attempt to answer questions about morality and behavior, the two theories have many fundamental differences: one evaluates actions in terms of the utility they produce whereas the other considers whether actions fulfill duty; one emphasizes consequence where the other highlights intentions; one sees desire as essential while the other precludes it and values reason. For years, philosophers have raised many objections towards each of the two theories, some of which are very compelling. In this paper, I will introduce and explain two famous objections to Classical Utilitarianism and anticipate how a non-utilitarian Consequentialist might try to avoid these problems. I will also describe the basic idea of Kantian Ethics and explain why Kant’s theory is less vulnerable to the harsh criticisms faced by Utilitarianism.
2. Two Objections to Classical Utilitarianism
Classical Utilitarianism is the doctrine that an act is morally right if and only if it maximizes overall utility , and that each person’s utility is counted impartially in the calculation. Specifically, Classical Utilitarianism entails three important elements: (1) Consequence is the only criterion in judging whether an action is right or wrong; (2) the net utility (the outcome after precluding total pain from total happiness) is the only thing that matters in assessing an action’s consequence; (3) everyone’s utility is equally counted in the calculation. Many objections have been raised against (1) and (2) because of the absolute impartiality demanded by Classical Utilitarianism as described in (3). The fact that every one’s interest counts the same implies that each person is valued the same---an idea that is counterintuitive. Some also suggest that the theory calls for too much personal sacrifice.
(1) The Charge that Classical Utilitarianism is Too-Demanding
One popular objection to Classical Utilitarianism is that it is too demanding (Rachels, p.). Suppose Person A has two choices in spending her weekend: she can either watch movies at home, or work at an NGO to save disadvantaged people from suffering. According to Classical Utilitarianism, Person A is morally obligated, not simply encouraged, to take the latter choice and to work as many hours as possible so that she can help alleviate the pain of those suffering and contribute to a higher overall utility. Similarly, if Person B’s resignation from his job will result in someone else’s happiness, person B is morally required to resign no matter how well he currently fits his job. Moral philosopher Peter Singer, in his article “Famine, Affluence and Morality”, also raises a case that is consistent with CU’s doctrine. He argues that instead of spending money on luxuries (or anything that are purchased not for the purpose of basic needs), the rich are morally...

Find Another Essay On On Utilitarianism and Kantian Ethics

Utilitarianism, Economics and Ethics Essay

1751 words - 7 pages . “The state is based on……the contradiction between public and private life, between universal and particular interests. For this reason, the state must confine itself to formal, negative activities.”(Marx, 1992). This essay focuses on the issues of a prominent theory, Utilitarianism as it blends and encompasses both areas of Economics and Ethics which have become the basis of our governmental bodies. In Utilitarianism the aim of our actions is

a level philosophy and ethics Utilitarianism - a level - essay

1153 words - 5 pages Give an account of Bentham’s and Mill’s Utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill both expressed different versions of Utilitarianism; though both shared a broadly Utilitarian view, their conclusions had considerable differences. Utilitarian thinking can ultimately be traced back to the ancient Greek thinkers, but Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was the first thinker to put the theory into a workable normative approach to ethics. Bentham and

Leadership and Ethics Course, Through Military Discussing Ethical Decisions as They Relate To Utilitarian Teleologist, Kantian Deontologist and Decision Making,

3080 words - 12 pages is that of a Kantian Deontologist (KD) who's reasoning would be to follow the order to evacuate, leaving them there. Their ethical reasoning is related directly to performance of their duty, following orders given to them by command and not of an emotional feeling. Kantian is derived from the philosopher Immanuel Kant whose ethics are founded on rationality as the higher good, and that people are rational beings. When making a decision you must

The Fated Donor: A Case Analysis on Kantian Philosophy,Imperative, Will, and Human Dignity

1462 words - 6 pages The Fated Donor: A Case Analysis on Kantian PhilosophyImperative, Will, and Human DignityIt is a common knowledge that Immanuel Kant's philosophy focused in autonomy, rights, and respect. To better understand Kantian philosophy, a case is presented below which can be analyzed in the light of his propositions, particularly regarding imperatives, will, and human dignity. To facilitate the analysis, the arguments of the persons involved in the case

Higher and Lower Pleasures: Their Effects on Millian Utilitarianism

1443 words - 6 pages In this paper, I examine Mill’s distinction between higher and lower pleasures that he presents in his Utilitarianism. Then, I raise objections to Mill’s distinction by focusing on the ambiguity of his definition of pleasures and his concept of the competent judge. I conclude that, with a recalculation of the definition of pleasures, his distinction of higher and lower pleasures can support a broader theory of utilitarianism. 1. Examining

Normative Ethics: Utilitarianism and Deontology: Module 1 <Tab/>Case Assignment<Tab/>

1375 words - 6 pages Litigation Tough Call Jacqueline Bell Securities Law360. February 29, 2008Boone, L., & Kurtz, D. (2003). Contemporary Business. Thompson Southwestern. P 51-60.Brandl, Patty. (2002). Codes of ethics: A Primer on Their Purpose, Development, and it's Use. The Journal for Quality and Participation. (Winter)The Institute of Business Ethics. Retrieved October 30, 2006 from http://www.ibe.org.uk/codesofconduct.htmlBerardino, J (2002) Learning From

Utilitarianism, Principles of Mill's utilitarianism with application to "Crime and Punishment" well-organized and good grip on Mill's theory

1672 words - 7 pages "One death, and a thousand lives in exchange--it's simple arithmetic."-RaskolnikovRaskolnikov's mathematical evaluation of the moral dilemma presented to him in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment exemplifies the empirical view of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism attempts to distinguish between right and wrong by measuring a decision based on its calculated worth. Raskolnikov appears to employ the fundamentals of utilitarianism by pitting the

John Stuart Mill and The Influence of Utilitarianism on Hard Times

1876 words - 8 pages would help sustain society during that time. On the other hand, his father, James Mill was an enthusiast in regards to male voting rights and parliamentary reform in the 19th century England (West 5-8). It is evident that John and his father both had counter arguments in regards to utilitarianism, emphasizing the differences between these two individuals. Charles Dickens himself is considered to be that of an anti-Benthamite, this is because of

Alahmad and Murphy on Business Ethics

1049 words - 4 pages The first two journal articles that were compared and contrasted were Ala Alahmad’s 2010 article on To Be Ethical or Not to Be: An International Code of Ethics for Leadership and Patrick Murphy’s 2009 article on The Relevance of Responsibility to Ethical Business Decisions. Some key findings of Alahmad’s writings were that ethics and leadership were closely tied together; they were found to be derivatives of one another. He mentioned that

Legal Issues, Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility on Business Planning

931 words - 4 pages surrounding community and society's well being like (My company). Corporations have decisions to make and many do not fully take into consideration the impact those decisions have on their customers, employees and investors as well as the communities in which they reside. The legalities, ethics and corporate social responsibility upon an organization's business planning will always have valid and invalid arguments from both internal and external

Essay on Math and its involvment with ethics - TOK - Essay

512 words - 3 pages cones, flowers, and fruits. As well as ethics, we make decision on a daily basis based on what is right and wrong. Ethics is what distinguishes a person from everyone. Humans also take knowledge for granted and do not realize how much it affects is. Human Competition: Today, no matter how useless a particular knowledge is to someone it is the fact that they know it, is what makes it useful. Everybody in th world aspires to have the ability

Similar Essays

Utilitarianism And Kantian Ethics Essay

1178 words - 5 pages Utilitarianism and Kantian Ethics      Ethics is one part of philosophy that will always be studied, and like most subjects in philosophy, will never be viewed the same by everyone. There are so many cultures that have so many different beliefs about the way a person's life should be lived out. Things like religion, poverty, and mental health all contribute to our beliefs in ethics. Some people believe that the

Kantian Ethics Vs. Utilitarianism Essay

1184 words - 5 pages situation. Both of these Philosophers are mostly concern with principal of individual action, which is our intent or our acts in general. The difference between them is whether these acts are either right or wrong. While Mill focuses on the consequences of actions, Kant does not, and puts more emphasis on our actions. 1.     To fully explain Onora O’neil’s argument for preferring Kantian ethics to Utilitarianism

Kantian Ethics And Christian Ethics Essay

1711 words - 7 pages Kantian Ethics and Christian Ethics Immanuel Kant the founder of the "Categorical Imperative" (CI) argues that morality is based on standards of rationality. Therefore, to act in disaccord with the CI is to act irrationally or immorally. In comparison to Christianity, to act immorally is to act in disagreement with God's laws. Kant's CI is formulated into three different ways, which include: The Universal Law Formulation, The Humanity or End

Ethics And Utilitarianism Essay

1395 words - 6 pages Utilitarianism The field of ethics in philosophy is complex, vast, and very controversial. It involves systemising, defending and reviewing concepts of right or wrong. philosophers usually divide ethics into 3 main divisions, metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Applied ethics is the branch of ethics which consists of the analysis of specific, controversial moral issues such as abortion, animal rights, or euthanasia. Normative