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What in your opinion is the difference between doing the best thing and doing the right thing?

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Introduction

What in your opinion is the difference between doing the best thing and doing the right thing? The essay title addresses morality, however doing the best thing in my opinion focuses on one school of morality and doing the right thing focuses on another. These two different schools of morality are utilitarianism, which in my opinion looks at doing the best thing and Kantian ethics, which looks at doing the right thing. My reasons on why I have made this distinction will be explained through the essay, and at the end I will conclude whether the two schools of ethics do focus on the different aspects, or whether it just appears that they do. Utilitarianism is a moral system based on creating the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number. The theory is very agreeable, however it is clear to see that the notions of intention, motive, rights and fairness are not addressed. Utilitarianism is therefore said to be consequentialist (results based), i.e. ...read more.

Middle

It can be seen that trying to save the child may not have been the best thing to do, even though you did it out of a sense of duty, or out of good intention. Therefore as Kantian ethics is not concerned about the consequences of an action (means justify the ends) then is many circumstances, like the one above, one may not choose the best possible action. The distinction between doing the best thing and doing the right thing is already starting to appear, however I will discuss the two schools of morality in more depth, to try and get a more definitive distinction. Kant believes that humans can make moral choices, and therefore if we ought to do something we can do it (ought implies can). The notion of ought for Kant, derived from the fact that humans do not always do what they should (their duty), they often do what they want (desire). For example, I ought to go see my sick granny, but I am going to watch a football match. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another example emphasising this, is the fact that it is possible to universalise an immoral act in Kantian ethics, so long as it still passes the principle of ends test. Any immoral act cannot be considered to be doing the right thing. To conclude, I believe that there is a different between the right thing and the best thing. Doing the best thing seems to be based on the outcome of an action (consequentialist), and not interested in the way the outcome is achieved. Doing the right thing however seems to be based on the sense of duty, i.e. the intention of your action, and is not interested in the consequences of an action. With these clear distinctions, they seem to fall nicely into either a utilitarian or a Kantian view, as utilitarianism is consequentialist based, and Kantian ethics is intention based. However there are also instances where they do not fall so easily into these categories. Even thought they may not be able to fit into either moral school perfectly, there is still a clear and distinct difference between doing the best thing and doing the right thing. ...read more.

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