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Kant And Mill’s Ethical Theories Essay

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One of the standard maneuvers when it comes to contemporary moral philosophy is the presentation of the Kant’s’ ethics and the utilitarianism as one of the alternative ethical theories. Basically there exist two types of ethical theories and these are those based on consequence and those which are not. Theories base on consequence are referred to as teleological ethics while the second type is called the deontological ethics (Kant, p.72). Typical examples of teleological ethics theories is the classical utilitarianism theory by john Stuart Mill and others of 20th century including Brandt and others while typical examples of the deontological ethical theorists includes Immanuel Kant and W.D Ross. This paper discusses the difference between Immanuel Kant’s and John Stuart Mill’s ethical theories; it also gives some of the quotes they used in their theories.

John Stuart Mill (1808-1893) believed in utilitarianism theory of ethics which has several formulations one of them being “Everyone should act in such a way to bring the largest possibly balance of good over evil for everyone involved” (Mill, p.98) and the term good is relatively defined. Basically Mill made distinction that exists between happiness and the sheer sensual happiness and in doing so he defines happiness based on the order of pleasure that is intellectual as well as social enjoyments. According to his principle of Greatest Happiness principle the ultimate end with a references to and for the sake that all thins are desirable especially when considering the goodness of oneself or of other people. And as Kant, p.72 “The sight of a being who is not adorned with a single feature of a pure and good will, enjoying unbroken prosperity, can never give pleasure to an impartial rational spectator. Thus a good will appears to constitute the indispensable condition even of being worthy of happiness.

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Stuart identifies three ideas and these include the idea that goodness of an act may be determined by the consequences of that act, also these consequences are often determined by the amount of the happiness or the unhappiness that is caused and finally idea is that a ‘good’ man is the person who considers the pleasure or the pain of the other man as being equal to his own (Kant, p.61). Thus Stuart considers the happiness of each person to be equally important and that a free act is the one that is not an undermined act but determined by the unconstrained choice of the person that is performing the act. Immanuel Kant was trained  more in religious subjects and Latin as compared to the mathematics and science thus the consequent formulation  of his ideas and concept regarding to the moral philosophy referred to as the ‘deontology’ which reiterates that an act should be carried out based on the responsibilities of an individual. Kant, p.167 states “To secure one’s own happiness is a duty, at least indirectly; for discontent with one’s condition, under a pressure of many anxieties and amidst unsatisfied wants, might easily become a great temptation to transgression of duty.”

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There are several major similarities between the ethical system of the Stuart Mill and Kant and these include the following: in an act utilitarianism laws are often not taken into consideration and this is considered right especially when such act is said to have brought happiness to most individuals. Similar is true when considering deontology  where duty forms the basis of the right act meaning that even if the law is broken and the responsibility is fulfilled then such act is considered to be definitely right. And as Mill, p.281 state “Now, such a theory of life excites in many minds, and among them in some of the most estimable in feeling and purpose, inveterate dislike.” These theories can not both be utilized as guides to morals because there exist times when decisions made based on utilitarianism or even deontology fail (Soccio, p.136). Kant’s moral theory and the utilitarianism are similar in that they both attempt to explain how an individual can go about acting ethically but differs when it comes to areas of measuring morality as well as their usage of rules thus both theorists measure morality in different ways.

There are differences between the ethical system by Immanuel Kant and Stuart mil and the first is when one considers in terms of goal the Kant’s deontological theory goal in fulfilling of certain duty where as the major goal of the Stuart mill’s utilitarianism is the achievement of happiness and this is evident in their definitions where Kant says that individuals ought to stick to their various responsibilities as it regards to evaluation of their moral quandary (Soccio, p.113). Stuart mill’s supports the pursuit of happiness while maintaining the concept that above al other values pleasure exists as the main purpose of living. Despite mill being a strong believer of the idea regarding happiness Kant o the other hand believe sin the well being of each an individual and that each person should be an end in itself. Kant ethical system lays an emphasis that an individual should never treat another person as means but always as a means to an end. Kant believes that no exceptions exist when it comes to moral values and this idea basically comes from the theory of universal law which states that an action is the only moral if the main reason fro performing it could be the reason everyone could have.

In addition to that Kant holds philosophical ideas in deontological ethics which is a philosophy of moral obligation of duty and that a right act is right if its done because of duty which according to his ideas are morally good especially I relation to their universalized maxims “Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should become a universal la’ (Soccio, p.174). Contrary to Kant’s ideas is the mill who holds teleological or consequential view of moral philosophy “a way of explaining things in terms of their ultimate goals; understanding things functionally in terms of the relationship of the parts to the whole” For Mill, a right act is right if and only if it produces pleasure or avoids pain–regardless of the will.