John Stewart Mill moral produced a modified version of utilitarianism. He based his theory on happiness rather than pleasure like Bentham. However he did focus on qualitative pleasures, some pleasures are higher (mind) and some lower (body).
Utilitarianism also exists in act form and rule form. Act utilitarianism maintains that the good action the one that leads to the greatest good in a particular situation. It also takes into account individual situations at a given moment. Act utilitarianism has the ability to justify virtually any act; however it may be impractical to suggest that we should measure each moral choice at any time.
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. It overcomes some difficulties encountered in act utilitarianism. However, it may still permit certain practices such as slavery that appear to be morally unacceptable, because minority interests are not protected.
However, Deontology is an ethical system, which is very different to utilitarianism. Deontology is the study of moral duty. It is where the morality of an act depends on the nature of the act itself. 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. He also believed that it isn’t our duty to do anything we’re unable to do.
Kant also said that there are two types of statement; A priori analytic these are statements that are knowable without external research, they contain the predicate within it e.g. ‘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. However they both work towards the same idea of bringing the most happiness.
Therefore given the situation whereby your son has stolen, and asks you to hind him from the police, who if find him will give him the death penalty. What do you do? Hide him because he’s your son and when the police come to find him tell them that he is not there? Or do you give him in to the police when they come looking for him and let him pay the price for stealing?
In this situation Bentham and Mill, and Kant would disagree. Bentham and Mill (utilitarianism) would argue that the most loving thing to do would be to tell the police you don’t know where he is. This would also produce the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number, as it would keep you and your family happy.
Whereas Kant would argue that the boy should not be hidden as he committed a bad action, regardless of his age or if he was hungry. His action was wrong.
‘Happiness is the most important consideration in ethics’. Discuss.
Utilitarianism would maintain that happiness is the most important consideration in ethics as happiness is the main aim of the utilitarianism theory. 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’.
Bentham introduced the hedonic calculus to measure this. This was the idea that human pleasures and pains are measurable and that accordingly actions can be judged right or wrong on the basis of a kind of ‘moral arithmetic.’ Therefore by using this happiness can be produced.
Utilitarianism also exists in act form and rule form. 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.