Utilitarianism Or Kantianism Essay Research Paper Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism Or Kantianism Essay, Research Paper

Utilitarianism or Kantianism, Which theory of ethics is correct?

In choosing an ethical theory one must ascertain which is right to them

mentally because, To choose one over the other must mean that you believe in

that one to the fullest extent. That?s why I believe the only true Ethical

Theory in life ?today? is Utilitarianism. The main Utilitarian value is

happiness not for one person but for all of society. Utilitarianism is a very

rational way of thought, in which we consider all people as equals among


(I say today because, a theory is only as good for as long as it last and no

one knows if a new theory will be discovered tomorrow.)

As all ethical theories, Utilitarianism is based on rights and wrongs of

human society. One principle of Utilitarianism is, the ultimate good (end or

purpose) of human life is happiness, not simply of a single individual in

isolation from others, but of all individuals together. This principle is very

important because it starts many disputes between people about what is good for

the majority of a society.

Utilitarianism has many principles but for this paper I will only be

discussing a few of the major points, such as actions of rights and wrongs. What

makes an act right is its consequences. ?Actions are right in proportion as

they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of

happiness.? How an action affects individuals, whether it causes them

pleasures or pain. One?s actions towards anything in life causes consequences,

these consequences are most of the time overlooked by the action maker, and its

results will be felt by others in the near future.

The Utilitarian standard is a social standard. What is right is not what

brings happiness to one, but what brings happiness to the majority. Many of the

Utilitarian principles are geared to an almost perfect world for all of

humanity. This orientation towards a Utopia society is one of the major reasons

why I believe Utilitarianism will prove to be the right theory of Ethics.

Utilitarianism is not without faults. One major point of this argument is

about happiness and good for the many as apposed to the few. Although we all

agree that happiness should be maximized for all, most of us cannot agree on

what is happiness and what is good and who decided. Utilitarianism offers us a

small look into this question by stating that, what is good is what society

defines good to be. For example, No one would ever disagree that helping someone

is wrong, but if helping someone shows your weakness towards others most people

would see you as weak hearted.

Kantianism is another theory of ethics, which believes that a human life

cannot be measured by quantity. This view on ethics is very interesting to

consider because it?s a one-eighty twist from Utilitarianism. In which we

notice that quantity is a main issue in life and its choices. Kantianism is

school of thought in which one life cannot be compared to another or many more.

One principle of Kantianism is "Act only according to that maxim by

which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."

This simple means that, one should do something that at the same time if done to

you would be acceptable by you. This argument is right on a fundamental level,

but we all know in life most people don’t feel this way about there choices,

they feel that they should do whatever brings them the most good.

Kantianism has a view of ethics that consist mainly of someone’s intentions

rather than the consequences. The good will factor is what Immanuel Kant argues

about. Suppose, A young child decides to help an old lady with her bags, but in

haste to rush up the stairs the young child spills the bags and breaks some of

the glass jars. Now the old lady is in total despair because all of her food is

lost because the child ran up the stairs. The older woman doesn’t stop to think

that the child had "good intentions" but decides to notify the child’s

parents and see to it that she is punished for her mistake. This is just an

example of how people today see life’s consequences and not someone’s good


Kant proposes a very radical way of thought to our society today, and he

maybe right on the long run but the common practice today is Utilitarianism and

it’s consequence theory. Utilitarianism is used all around us today and over

history as well. The United States used this theory in its assault on Hiroshima,

Japan during World War II. They dropped an atomic bomb on Japan that they knew

was going to kill hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of minutes. This

act alone was justified in America because it was calculated at being able to

end the War and save the lives of millions of Allied soldiers. The United States

sacrificed the few for the many. The United States had bad intentions on

dropping that bomb but the consequences were good at the end because many more

lives were saved. Now I know that it’s still wrong and the United States could

have approached Japan with an ultimatum, but that plain might have failed and

taken the lives of other Americans down with it.

The Utilitarian approach may have been over kill but the fact that’s at hand

is that the War came to a rapped end after the bomb was dropped in fear of

losing more lives. Kantianism would have see this act as being wrong because of

the death at the end and would have said that no one should judge the value of

many lives over the value of many other lives. Although the actions of the

United States against Japan were sad and somewhat evil, the action was taken and

the United States of America is probably better off now with peace with Japan

even though it came at such a hard price.

Although Kantianism is mentally correct it in practice is a failure. Even the

most devoted Kantianist believer will sometimes lean towards Utilitarianism when

the stakes are placed on a higher platform. For example, Most people wouldn’t

kill one person to save three others, but would if it was to save three million

people. Like wise that such person wouldn’t kill one to save ten people, but

would if those ten people saved were apart of her family. Why is this? I believe

this exist because once the situation changes against them the person sees life

in a personal way and her rational mind kicks-in. Once the person knows the

decision will effect her privately and personally, her Utilitarian thought rises

and blossoms.

My preference from the start has been in favor of Utilitarianism, because I

feel that Utilitarianism is the proper way of thought in making major decisions

that will effect other people’s life. Although Kantianism seems to be the proper

ethical theory, one must ask himself, would you want someone to do the same to

you. By this I mean would want another person to do exactly what you have done.

I feel if you were to ask most people this, they would probably respond with a

smart answer or with no answer at all. My opinion on this topic is one of wonder

because if some one doesn’t believe in Utilitarianism, I feel she is being

utterly thick headed not to see that Kantianism is wrong if you don’t support

all sides of it. Kantianism is good though, for small situations as in daily

life, but for major issues such as War, the only way to follow is




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