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utilitarianism and kant

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Introduction

Explain the main differences between Utilitarianism and the ethics of Kant. (33) Utilitarianism and the ethics of Kant are two opposing theories with two different outcomes. Utilitarianism is a teleological theory of ethics. It maintains that it is the total consequence of an action, which determines is rightness or wrongness. It means that the morality of an action is to be safely determined through an assessment of its consequences. With utilitarianism it is not just personal happiness or self interest that counts, but the happiness and interest of everyone concerned. The basic principle of utilitarianism is 'an action is right if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number.' In utilitarianism actions have no intrinsic value. In utilitarianism all people, ethically speaking are equal but the morally right action is the one, which produces the greatest overall positive consequences for the greatest number. This means in utilitarianism the majority are more important than the minority. There are two utilitarianist approaches, Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stewart Mill (1806-1873). Jeremy Bentham, who stated that we should act in a way, which would maximise pleasure and minimise pain. This position is known as hedonistic utilitarianism. Its aim is to lower overall pain and increase overall pleasure. What is produced form the consequence of an action is called utility. ...read more.

Middle

'1+1=2'. And, A posteriori synthetic these are Statements that are knowable by only by empirical examination - it may be verified or falsified e.g. 'it's raining today' Kant's distinguishes between two types of imperitives or commands underwhich human beings act:Hypothetical imperatives. These have 'ifs' - 'if you want to pass this course you have to work.' They have instrumental value, and are Conditional. Hypothetical imperatives are a means to an end - they are not obligatory if the end is not desired. Also he stated that there are, Categorical imperatives. These have no 'ifs'. They have intrinsic value, and are Unconditional. Categorical imperatives are ends in themselves - their authority does not come from achieving an end. For Kant, the only moral imperatives are categorical. Kant therefore devised his own Categorical Imperatives in order to helps us determine which actions are morally obligatory and which are forbidden. There are three categorical imperatives; The Universal Law, Treat humans as ends in themselves, and, Act as though you live in a kingdom of ends. So therefore you can see that there are many differences between these two theories, the main difference being that utilitarianism tends to look more at outcome of an action, and Kant however tends to look more at the action and if it is morally good. ...read more.

Conclusion

Act utilitarianism maintains that the good action the one that leads to the greatest good in a particular situation. Rule utilitarianism establish the best overall rule by determining the course of action which, when pursued by the whole community, leads to the greatest result. These both seek to produce the greatest good, which overall produces happiness Overall the main aim of utilitarianism is to produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Kant however would argue against this and sate that it is not happiness that is most important when considering ethics, but that it is duty. Kant's theory states that to act morally is to do ones duty, and ones duty is to obey the moral law. And is concerned with actions, rather than consequences. He believed that we should not act out of love and compassion but out of duty. However when Kant produced the categorical imperatives he surly would have believed that that if you follow his categorical imperative and do your duty that happiness would also occur. Doing our duty should produce happiness. Therefore it is utilitarianism that mainly believes that happiness is the most important consideration in ethics because the main aim of utilitarianism is to produce the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. Kant however believes that duty is more important than happiness, and then if we do our duty then we can achieve happiness. ...read more.

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