Deontology focuses on respecting the autonomy and humanity of others, basically preaching equal opportunity. Utilitarianism does not specify any means by which to obtain happiness—happiness is its only mandate. While happiness sounds like a great end goal, it is a rather impractical one and the lack of consideration of motivations and means of utility-increasing actions has some serious negative consequences. I prefer Deontology over Utilitarianism for its focus on individual’s rights, opportunity, and personal autonomy. Utilitarianism’s advocacy of happiness by any means is what concerns me about the theory.
Aristotle believes that ethics is about doing the things that make one an excellent and ultimately a happy (fulfilled) person. Kant claims that happiness is irrelevant in ethics and that the right thing to do is to determine what our duty is and to act on it. Both of these philosophies pose their flaws, but the question of what should we follow if we have no basis is raised. Although I strongly disagree with both philosophies, Kant’ s philosophy would work the best in an ideal world, while on the other hand, Aristotle’s philosophy wouldn’t work in an ideal or realistic world. Aristotle is a strong believer that reaching happiness is the ultimate goal of humans.
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.
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.
Mill says, “No reason can be given why the general happiness is desirable, except the fact that each person desires his own happiness, so far as he thinks it is attainable. But this is a fact; so we have not only all the proof that could be possibly demanded, that happiness is a good; that each person’s happiness is a good to that person; and therefore that general happiness is a good to the aggregate of all persons. Happiness has made good its claim to be one of the ends of conduct, and consequently one of the criteria of morality” (Ch. IV, page 35). Mill’s book supports his theory that happiness is the sole basis of morality because people never desire anything but happiness and this desire will bring the greatest good for the greater number of people.
Utilitarianism is based on the right being that which has a good or pleasant outcome, and immoral being an action with a bad outcome. Utilitarianism also maintains that we should act to maximize the happiness of everyone. Some philosophers see this principle as a strict requirement Jeremy Bentham, a philosopher came up with principles to utility. He was the first to propel the idea that an action should be judged by the amount of pleasure or pain it caused. His principle explained that a good action is on that brought pleasure while one that caused pain was evil.
Kant believed that following ones duty was not measurable by the end means, yet it “is good only through its willing”. This meant that it is good only if it is good in itself. He believes under the categorical imperative, one must only act upon the maxim if it is willable under the universal law. And these maxims must be contradiction free and purposeful to be considered moral. Kant believed that we as hum... ... middle of paper ... ... feel beneath you to uplift ones self.
The principle of utility and ethics governed by pleasure and pain each seem flawed. How can all of our acts be good as long as we seeking pleasure for the greater community? That thought is too vague. That is a free pass to do anything you want as long as it brings people pleasure. Although he claims that he believes that ethics should be objective, the previous statement makes it subjective.
An action could be morally wrong or morally right, depending on what action brings out the best outcome out of the... ... middle of paper ... ...s theory, often called hedonism. There is no benefit as to having utility as a single standard in which all applies to pleasures, because if you have one measurement to all it signifies that happiness is the same for all. If one’s end goal of human action is pleasure and that is all, how can one type of pleasure be essentially better than another? Compare the pleasure of living a life happy but completely deluded, seen from the perspective of “The Matrix” heroes of a life with happiness in which you are completely aware of on your own. The measurements of pleasure wouldn’t be the same because they are two completely different environments.
For Kant, people have to do what is right because it is the right thing to do, without taking into consideration personal opinion. On the other hand, mill’s theory would agree with the idea of non-subjectivity but not on the same terms as Kant. Mill would argue that if something brings happiness to the general public but not to the individual, it would still be considered the right thing to do. Both authors do not believe in the idea of virtue theory. However, their reasons are parallel to each other.