The Golden Rule in Kant and Mill's Ethical Theories

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Ethics refers to what people consider good or bad and right or wrong. It is a theory dealing with values that relate to human behaviour; with respect to their actions and purpose. The two most important philosophers that deal with ethics are Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill. Kant’s ethical theory is Kantianism or deontological ethics. Mill’s ethical theory is utilitarianism. Both philosophers’ theories have many differences; Kant’s theory deals with conduct, seeking reason for good action in duty. Mill’s theory deals with consequences and maximizing human happiness. However both Kant and Mill’s ethics relate to the important biblical principal of the Golden Rule.
What makes actions right? For some philosophers it is their consequences, like the pleasure or happiness that they produce. However for a deontologist like Immanuel Kant, rightness is the action itself and the obligation to perform it. His ethics is a theory of how a person should act, the actual action and morality of the action. It entails that as long as a person acts in a moral way then the consequences of the actions do not matter. “For Kant, doing the right thing is not a matter of one’s character or disposition or circumstance – all of which are or might be beyond one’s control. Instead, it is the matter of duty, acting out of respect for the moral law.” (Stangroom, J. & Garvey, J. 2005, p.79) Moral Laws are a system of guidelines for controlling human behaviour; like society laws. The Ten Commandments set by Moses are moral laws with the commands of a divine being, moral laws can be a set of universal rules that everyone should abide by. Kant argues that: “The moral law cannot be hypothetical in nature, cannot be of the form, ‘if you want such and such, do so...

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...ould not want to be the one that is killed and you also can’t not kill because you would want to be one of the two people that are saved. As for Mill his ethics state that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness and wrong as they tend to produce unhappiness. It cannot be the same as the Golden Rule because Mill believes that pleasure is better than pain and that one should act in a way that produces the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. However comparing to the Golden Rule treat others as how you would want to be treated – let’s say you like the feeling of pain, you would treat others with pain but Mill says that pleasure is better than pain and pain does not produce happiness. Overall one believes that both Kant and Mill’s ethics do essential relate to the Golden Rule but they cannot be the same as the Golden Rule.
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