Moral Actions by Philosophers Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill

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In the making of my own argument on the elements that justify a right or wrong action, I will reference two of the most influential philosophers, Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill. In order to make this paper easy to follow, I intend to focus on one of the arguments formed by each of these men. I will evaluate how both of Kant and Mill’s principles fits into the morals of right and wrong. Kant gives us a categorical imperative that urges one to Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law (Kant), and Mill states that actions are right as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness (Mill). Lastly, I will briefly formulate my own position on the components of a morally right action. I find Mill’s view of utilitarianism somewhat conflictive with the idea of morality. Based on the notion that utilitarianism calls “right” the actions that promote greatest happiness, for one self and for the whole, it can be said that utilitarianism allows murder (for whatever reasons it may be) and therefore this view is incompatible with our assessment morally acts.
When we find ourselves conflicted in a difficult decision-making process, a Kantian would advise us to evaluate the outcomes of our decisions and think whether we would want to have such actions made acceptable universally. If we cannot imagine living in a world where innocent individuals, regardless of their status, meet death to pay for the crime of another, then we ought not to take such actions against an innocent individual. Otherwise, the result would only lead to a world, where the true criminals roam free while many innocent lives are jailed or executed. This effect could al...

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...eate a less happy society than would utilitarians. This is because the Kantians would be more likely willing to commit actions of just nature, therefore leading them to be more selective, which in turn decreases their happiness-maximizing existence. To see how this plays out in a real case scenario, the person who would have been in the position to convict an innocent life would refrain from doing so. That decision could potentially give him a bad reputation in his career (for not being able to catch the actual criminal) and in the worse case, a messy riot would arise, and no one is happy. On the other hand, the utilitarian-minded authority would go on to convict the innocent life, earning him a medal for a job well done and overall the public will celebrate a false victory of justice. Ultimately, there are objections to both Kantian and Utilitarian’s perspectives.

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