Essay on Kantian vs Utilitarian Ethical Parameters

Essay on Kantian vs Utilitarian Ethical Parameters

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The task that stands before me in this paper is to address two situations and determine the ethical parameters in which a person should act. The two philosophical approaches that I will examine the situations with the Kantian and Utilitarian point of view.

Kant deciphers his ethical questions by examining a person's motivation for performing an act regardless of the consequences. A person who utilizes the Kantian view believes that the only pure good is pure human reason without consequences. This pure human reason works without the influence of human emotions and desires. A truly good act as defined by Kant is performed because of an obligation to the categorical imperative. The objectives and personal agendas of the individual performing the act must kept separate and distinct.

Utilitarism makes ethical decisions based on the consequences of the action taken. Unlike the Kantian view the motives are not important just the consequences. The action is measured by how much happiness or sadness the action creates. The ideal ethical decision is the one that creates the most happiness and the least amount of sadness. It is nearly impossible to have different degrees of freedom since a person would have to experience all the various degrees of freedom to determine what degree of happiness is better than the other.

The first situation deals with a thief who stole from the millionaire. In this case, Kant would examine the motives of the thief. The thief is stealing for himself regardless of his situation. Even if his family is poor and struggling. The thief is still furthering himself. The reasons for the thief stealing from the wealthy man doesn't matter. Stealing is against the universal law that it is wrong to steal from a...


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... are beneficial. The father dies peacefully and happily, knowing his dying wish will be followed. The girl made her father very happy by promising to follow his wish. The only negative would be the lingering guilt that she might marry somebody outside her religion, but this is only a possibility.

The Utilitarian would agree that telling the father that she will promise not to marry a man outside her religious affiliation. This decision brings the most pleasure on both sides of the issue, and prevents the pain and anguish experienced by her father. This analysis is strong because it suits the utilitarian point of view so well. The daughter is doing something that will bring the greatest amount of happiness to greatest amount of people. The main fault to this argument is that the daughter had to be deceitful to her dying father to bring that happiness to her father.

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