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Compare Utilitarianism With Kant's Theory of The Categorical Imperative And Explain Which You Think Is The Best To Use For Moral Decision Making.

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Introduction

Compare Utilitarianism With Kant's Theory of The Categorical Imperative And Explain Which You Think Is The Best To Use For Moral Decision Making. Both Utilitarianism and Kant's theory of the Categorical Imperative provide people with a moral structure, from which to make moral decisions. However, both of them have benefits and flaws, and thus - as they contradict each other in many ways - it is difficult to decide which is the most suitable with regards everyday life decision making. To enable one to decide, it is vital to first understand the basic principles involved in each and to then compare the advantages and disadvantages each offer, which is going to be the main body of this essay. Utilitarianism has been split into two forms, as many struggled to accept the basic idea without some elaboration. Act Utilitarianism was Bentham's idea, and it contrasts quite considerably to Mill's idea of Rule Utilitarianism. Both follow the principle that they should be applied in all situations - with no exceptions - or though the principles they are actually applying varies. Act Utilitarianism states that, in every situation, we should make our moral decisions based upon the outcome - the moral choice being that which brings about the greatest good to the greatest number. ...read more.

Middle

The example of the sadistic guards also highlights another major weakness - one can justify almost anything, including torture and murder, whilst still claiming that the actions are moral. In relation to Rule Utilitarianism, its' main weaknesses are that it doesn't take the individual circumstances into account and a major question is, who decides upon the rules? Using this theory, one could also justify slavery. If the majority sets the rules by which the minority live, the majority are therefore in control of the minority and can set rules such as, 'you must obey your master'. Following the theory of Utilitarianism, in order to make decisions, so that they cause the greatest good for the greatest number, one can use the Hedonic Calculus. This calculus is there to help one to gage the outcome of the action, in reference to seven areas: intensity; duration; certainty; fecundity; remoteness; purity and extent. However, this is one of the major weaknesses for Utilitarianism, which makes it unsuitable for everyday decision making. It is based highly on 'quantative measure' - this refers to the number of people receiving pleasure, and for how long, thus it values pleasure in terms of number rather than quality. ...read more.

Conclusion

With regards this matter, the Categorical Imperative provides a much fairer outlook, stating that individuals are equal and that one can never justify sacrificing one, for the good of the many. Also, the Categorical Imperative, as deontological theory, does not accept that sometimes, the consequences of an action can help us to decide on the right, moral way to act. However, Utilitarianism decisions are based purely on the outcome - but can one ever be sure of the consequences of an action? Unexpected events can happen to alter the results and therefore making a decision on the promise of a positive outcome may be unwise considering the results may not even occur - after all, no one can truly predict the future. So, although neither are perfect, with regards this issue, Kant's theory offers the better way to make decisions. To conclude, both have strengths and weakness, and each suite a different type of thinker (the Categorical Imperative is a deontological theory, whereas Utilitarianism is a theological theory). However, if forced to choose, Kant's theory offers fewer flaws and is a more practical option for everyday life, and therefore is the more suitable theory, especially as Utilitarianism provides one with a way to morally justify dreadful actions and therefore is open to abuse. ?? ?? ?? ?? Religious Studies Date: 11/07/2008 3 ...read more.

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