Immanuel Kant Versus John Stuart Mill

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Immanuel Kant Versus John Stuart Mill

Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill; two opposing philosophers of their

time. Even though they were living in different countries, their works

have been against each other. In his book, Grounding for the

Metaphysics of Morals, Kant argues that there is nothing better than

wanting goodwill by itself. He emphasizes the importance of goodwill

over and over again and tries to show how effective moral philosophy

can be if goodwill is used as the key element. Therefore, for Kant,

the sole foundation of philosophy rests on goodwill. Opposing Kant,

Mill suggests that goodwill does not have the power to be key element

by itself. He suggests that in order for action to be moral, that

action must be followed with consequences that cause happiness.

Following are the few basic arguments of both philosophers.

Let's start with an example discussed in class. Pretend you are a

shopkeeper. If you lower your prices to get more customers, this would

not have anything to do with goodwill; thus this action would not be a

moral one. Yet, if you lower your prices because it is your duty to

serve your customers to the best of your ability and therefore, it is

your duty to lower prices, then this action would arise from goodwill

making it a moral one. For Kant, an action is good if that action

causes pleasure; yet an action is right if it is moral even if it

causes pain (main incentive is nothing but pure goodwill). Therefore,

Kant suggests that the right is independent of the good. This was the

Kantian viewpoint. Mill would suggest that both of the cases include

moral actions. Since the shopkeeper reduces his/her prices,...

... middle of paper ...

... the concept of pain in his

theory as well. In view of the fact that happiness differs from person

to person, the moral theories not based on empirical means-such as

Kant's-is captive to fail, Mill suggests.

It is clear that Kant and Mill opposes in their main ideas of moral

theory. If they contradict this much in the beginning then they would

have to oppose each other more when they start building up their

theories. Most of the ideas and theories they provide are either

conflicting or exactly the opposite. But because they lived during the

same time, one cannot say whether Kant opposed Mill or vice versa. All

in all, these two modern philosophers grew their agreements' stronger

by attacking each others' and this caused them to have their

footprints on two different moral theories: Utilitarianism, and

Deontology.
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