Mill And Kant's Theories

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Mill And Kant's Theories

John Stuart Mill (1808-73) believed in an ethical theory known as
utilitarianism. There are many formulation of this theory. One such is,
"Everyone should act in such a way to bring the largest possibly balance of
good over evil for everyone involved." However, good is a relative term.

What is good? Utilitarians disagreed on this subject. Mill made a distinction
between happiness and sheer sensual pleasure. He defines happiness in terms of
higher order pleasure (i.e. social enjoyments, intellectual). In his

Utilitarianism (1861), Mill described this principle as follows:According to the

Greatest Happiness Principle ... The ultimate end, end, with reference to and
for the sake of which all other things are desirable (whether we are considering
our own good or that of other people), is an existence exempt as far as possible
from pain, and as rich as possible enjoyments.Therefore, based on this
statement, three ideas may be identified: (1) The goodness of an act may be
determined by the consequences of that act. (2) Consequences are determined by
the amount of happiness or unhappiness caused. (3) A "good" man is one
who considers the other man's pleasure (or pain) as equally as his own. Each
person's happiness is equally important.Mill believed that a free act is not an
undetermined act. It is determined by the unconstrained choice of the person
performing the act. Either external or internal forces compel an unfree act.

Mill also determined that every situation depends on how you address the
situation and that you are only responsible for your feelings and actions. You
decide how you feel about what you think you saw.Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) had
an interesting ethical system. It is based on a belief that the reason is the
final authority for morality. Actions of any sort, he believed, must be
undertaken from a sense of duty dictated by reason, and no action performed for
expediency or solely in obedience to law or custom can be regarded as moral. A
moral act is an act done for the "right" reasons. Kant would argue
that to make a promise for the wrong reason is not moral - you might as well not
make the promise. You must have a duty code inside of you or it will not come
through in your actions otherwise. Our reasoning ability will always allow us to
know what our duty is.Kant described two types of common commands given by
reason: the hypothetical imperative, which dictates a given course of action to
reach a specific end; and the categorical imperative, which dictates a course of
action that must be followed because of its rightness and necessity. The
categorical imperative is the basis of morality and was stated by Kant in these
words: "Act as if the maxim of your action were to become through your will
and general natural law." Therefore, before proceeding to act, you must
decide what rule you would be following if you were to act, whether you are
willing for that rule to be followed by everyone all over. If you are willing to
universalize the act, it must be moral; if you are not, then the act is morally
impermissible. Kant believed that the welfare of each individual should properly
be regarded as an end in itself, as stated in the Formula of the End in

Itself:Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own
person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means but always at the
same time as an end.Kant believes that moral rules are exceptionless. Therefore,
it is wrong to kill in all situations, even those of self-defense. This is
belief comes from the Universal Law theory. Since we would never want murder to
become a universal law, then it must be not moral in all situations.So which of
the two theories would make a better societal order? That is a difficult
question because both theories have "problems." For Kant it is
described above, his rules are absolute. Killing could never be make universal,
therefore it is wrong in each and every situation. There are never any
extenuating circumstances, such as self-defense. The act is either wrong or
right, based on his universality law. Yet, Mill also has problems. If properly
followed, utilitarianism could lead to obviously wrong actions being considered
right because the rightness or wrongness of an action is determined by the net
consequences. Therefore, conceivably, it would morally okay for a very large and
powerful country that was desperately in need of

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