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.
“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
Augustine shares with that of Plato and Aristotle that virtue is necessary, but he disagrees that is all of what is needed. He denies that the perfection of one?s character suffices for virtue or happiness. His revelation is that the chief good is happiness. Being the highest good, it cannot be attained in one?s physical life. Brought forth is the balance of the natural realm and the supernatural realm.
To clarify, neither school is declaring specific actions right or wrong; rather each is prescribing their own way of life in which happiness can be obtained (Sharples 82). In this paper, I will argue that the Stoic School succeeds because it accounts for the human desire to purse certain virtues without regard to pleasure or pain which is essential to happiness. For the Stoics, what is necessary to live a happy life does not derive itself from physical pleasure or mental peace, rather virtue (Sharples 100). When one acts virtuously, they act in accordance with their human nature, following the guidance of their reason. For the Stoics, this guidance from reason leads us to certain things which give us pleasure such as wisdom or even other virtues we may feel.
This may sound disheartening, and Kant admits that freedom is merely a concept we apply to ourselves as rational beings, and thus is something we can never be sure about. However, his argument allows us to understand that the fact that we govern ourselves under this Idea of Freedom shows that rational beings, at least in our perspective, are truly free.
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.
Anything else that has value is valuable merely as a means to securing pleasure for oneself. Epicurus associated this theory to a refined and individual view of the nature of pleasure, which lead him to recommend a virtuous, moderately frugal life as the best means to securing pleasure. His ethical theories find a foundation in the Aristotelian commonplace that the highest good is what is valued for its own sake, and not for the sake of anything else. Epicurus also agreed with Aristotle that happiness is the highest good. However, he disagreed with Aristotle by identifying happiness with pleasure.
Hume focused on passions that drive people, not a subservience to regulations. Hume would agree that Kant’s ethics are a form of moral absolutism, which is that certain actions are right or wrong regardless of context. Under Kant’s ethics it follows that there is rule worship, in which people follow rules with no regard to potential consequences. Despite the fact that Hume and Kant agree that the golden rule is a respectable principal, they reach the conclusion from different premises. Kant considers it moral because of the idea that no person is above any other person, which is consistently generalizable.
Aristotle says that the best life for a human is to have and exercise excellence of character, but he undermines this in book X by claiming that understanding is the better good for humans. Therefore, he contradicts himself on what the best life for humans must be. I will propose that Aristotle does not hold that virtues are undermined by contemplation, but that we hope that contemplation is consistent with our virtues. As such, they act together towards human good. I will show that this does not resolve the tension.
Plato rejects the contractarian reconciliation of morality with individual rationality primarily because the thinks that the contractarian conception assumes that a person's motives for being just are necessarily based her self-interest, while our concept of the just person holds that to be truly just one must value justice for its own sake. The contractarian account is also unacceptable because it has no foorce in the case of the Lydia Shepherd. (3) Finally, Plato holds that we must reject the contractarian account because a better account is available to us, viz., his own account of justice. But to show this Plato must establish each of the following: 1. There really is a difference between perceived self-interest and actual self-interest, that there can be a difference between what one believes to be in one's interest and what really is in one's interest.