Mill and Kant's Efforts to Solve an Ethical Dilemma

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It is natural for human beings to subscribe to particular moral ideologies and to apply them to their day-to-day lives since we all live in societies that have norms and values. For many centuries, philosophers have tried to formulate frameworks upon which these moral principles can be based and measured. This paper tries to apply the moral theories of John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant is solving an ethical dilemma.

John Stuart Mill opens his utilitarian postulation by asserting that ethical statements cannot be subjected to scientific or mathematical provability (West 23). Mill’s utilitarianism is the moral standpoint that views actions as right or wrong in proportion to how they advance happiness or pleasure (Bailey 23). By maximizing utility, Mill implies increasing happiness (West 57).

Mill urges moral actors to consider the quality of the expected pleasure rather than just focusing on the quantity (Nussbaum 64). Mill postulates that there are higher and lower pleasures (Hayry 48). Utilitarianism can, therefore, be seen as a form of social hedonism where the best action is that which generates the greatest amount of pleasure or happiness to the largest number of people including the person performing the action (Moore and Bruder 286). This greatest pleasure principle is irrespective of whether the action makes the performer happy or not.

In deciding the morality of John’s choices using the utilitarian approach, we first need to specify the options available to him. He can either use the money gained from the car sale to support his family of four or donate the money to a veteran’s association. We need to evaluate the consequences of each action and estimate the probability of each of the expected consequences (Wood 54)...

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