“A good will is not a good because what of effects or accomplishes because of its fitness to attain some proposed end but only because of its violati... ... middle of paper ... ...ately lights upon what is in fact in common interests and in conformity with duty and hence honorable, deserves praise and encouragement but not esteem; for the maxim lacks moral content, namely that of doing such actions not from inclination.” (Page, 11, Kant) Second, possessing and maintaining one's moral goodness is the very condition under which anything else is worth having or pursuing. Intelligence and even pleasure are worth having only on the condition that they do not require giving up one's fundamental moral convictions. The value of a good will thus cannot be that it secures certain valuable ends, whether of our own or of others, since their value is entirely conditional on our possessing and maintaining a good will. Indeed, since it is good under any condition, its goodness must not depend on any particular conditions obtaining. Thus, Kant points out
Someone may be unjust and they can completely agree because they are reaping the benefits from being unjust versus when they were a just person, they just haven’t experienced the consequences of being unjust. I also believe that there are people who would be unjust if no consequences followed, but I think that there are more honorable people in our world simply because they choose to be.
It is important to understand why humans regard things as moral and Hume does an excellent job of explaining this based on observable human characteristics. This theory can then be used to judge the morality of questionable circumstances. A theory like Kant's lacks this quality. Since its basis is not observable it lacks the credibility for application. It does not apply to real world situations because it is not founded on real world data.
Though each theory deserves the general respect they have gathered, both are under constant attack from objection and scrutiny. Utilitarianism is criticized for only looking at the results of actions, not at the desires or intentions which motivate them, while virtue ethics comes under attack for social standards that are considered as outdated. Both theories are not perfect, nor completely wrong. But when one considers the philosophies and follows each theory, utilitarianism proves to be the superior ethical system than virtue theory. Virtue ethics revolves around the concept of perfect happiness.
In his paper, Mill claims that many philosophers have criticized utilitarianism since utilitarianism highlights the consequences of actions in order to be morally permissible. In contrary to this criticism, Mill advocates that utilitarianism does emphasize not the consequences of actions but the consequences of agents. In other words, consequences are bounded by agent’s character rather than action. He assumes that right action does not show whether it is done by virtuous character or not. However; Mill does not deny that ‘…in the long run the best proof of a good character is good actions’ (Selections from Utilitarianism, 82).
Kant states in 4:399 in Section I of the Groundwork that to assure one’s happiness is a duty we all have. It is in these passages that George may find some redemption in terms of moral worth in his actions despite his belief that it is morally wrong for him to help others. It wouldn’t be so hard to imagine or suppose that helping his friend Arthur would provide George some degree of happiness. As Kant suggests, there is a law to promote his happiness but not from inclination but rather from duty. So it can be taken that George’s action to help Arthur, insofar as it provides him happiness, has proper moral worth despite the fact that he was raised to believe that it is morally wrong to ask for help when you are in need and wrong to provide help to others.
Kant argues that human reasoning is limited in its ability to provide an example of true morality. In his essay, he states that what humans perceive as good morals does not necessarily fit the conditions of what can be categorized as universal law of morality. Kant believes that people must hold morality not solely as an idea or set of exceptions but as an absolute idea (Kant 408). This absolute idea should be free of human rationalization in order to create a pure example. He believes this to be the case because within this form of rationalizing what is good from what is wrong there are often cases that stray away from true virtue such as human behavior.
Mill’s critics would likely say that Utilitarianism as a whole can function to create selfish people because all are striving towards a life of more pleasure than pain, but Mill shuts this down with the idea of happiness being impartial. Basically, a person must choose an action that yields the most happiness or pleasure, whether that pleasure is for them or not. Mill would recognize that, “Among the qualitatively superior ends are the moral ends, and it is in this that people acquire the sense that they have moral intuitions superior to mere self-interest” (Wilson). By this, it is meant that although people are supposed to take action that will produce the greatest pleasure, the do not do so in a purely selfish manner. Mill goes on to argue that the happiness of individuals is interconnected; therefore one cannot be selfish in such a way.
Virtues usually help people do good, but when they do not help, people must violate them for the sake of the principle. Franklin would argue that virtues are not the core of morality, but, doing good is the core. Therefore, people must sometimes sacrifice their virtues if it is necessary to achieve morality. Franklin uses his guidelines in this flexible way because he is a reasonable and practical person. If Franklin strictly followed his guidelines all the time, it would be unproductive and inefficient.
Kant does not believe reaching happiness is the main goal of life, but instead doing good with a sense of duty is. Kant says, “A good will is good not because of what it effects or accomplishes… it is good only through its willing, i.e., it is good in itself” (Kant, First Section). Kant’s claim is very strong because it doesn’t allow for any adaptations. From this, he creates two imperatives, the hypothetical and the categorical. Following the categorical imperatives is what eventually will make one virtuous because they are universal laws or commands to being