Role of Happiness in Ethical Decisions Essay

Role of Happiness in Ethical Decisions Essay

Length: 1221 words (3.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

“All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason” (Kant 1). The usage of reason as a representation of one’s intellect is a common trait in the 21st century. Happiness, a positive emotion, tends to blur one’s judgement and coerces philosophers to look upon its relevance when formulating ethical decisions. When considering the role of emotion in ethical decisions, one must consider the contrasting views of Immanuel Kant, an 18th Prussian philosopher that focussed his philosophies around the doctrine of reason, in comparison to that of John Stewart Mill, a 19th century British philosopher that followed the doctrine of happiness through the ideology of utilitarianism. I shall argue that when making ethical decisions, it is imperative that happiness should play a very recessive, if any, role in the decision making process as it does not represent morality in any form.
According to Kant, a deontological ethicist, happiness is the “continuous well being, enjoyment of life, complete satisfaction with one’s condition” (Kant 593). He observes happiness as a form of hypothetical imperative, as opposed to a categorical imperative. Kant focuses on solely reason and does not explore the consequences of actions. He believes that there is no universal sense of happiness, and thereby states that the doctrine of happiness should not be equated with that of the doctrine of reason. In his book, Critique of Practical Reason, Kant defines happiness as being “the state of a rational being in the world, in the whole of whose existence everything goes according to his wish or will;” however, it is not a pleasure nor a source of happiness associated with a moral lif...


... middle of paper ...


...be learned from experience” (Kant 370). Since happiness contains knowledge from experience, it must have no moral significance. Therefore, Kant rightly leaves it out of his moral theory.
In conclusion, through this paper, I have sought out to prove that despite Mill’s utilitarianism stance, Kant’s deontological ethics stands on solid ground when stating the happiness should not be used in ethical decision-making. It is not always logical to take human nature into ethical decision as emotions and experiences tend to cloud one’s thought process. Though today’s society focuses on consequences in order to gain happiness, I believe humanity has been forced into an immoral pathway of ethical reasoning.

Kant, Immanuel. “Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals.” The German Library: Volume 13. Ed. Ernst Behler. New York: The Continuum Publishing Company, 2006.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay Managers as Ethical Role Models

- When this class first began, I questioned my understanding of ethics. Was it simply breaking the law. Was it an action or inaction against a written policy. Did it only involve hurting others or could you perform an unethical act against yourself. These thoughts led me to the dictionary where I sought the definition of ethics. Dictionary.com defines ethics as “that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.” This definition directed me to consider my ethical behavior....   [tags: Teleology, Deontology, Intuitionism, Virtue Theory]

Strong Essays
2949 words (8.4 pages)

The Ethical Responsibility Of An Engineer Essay

- Engineers have an ethical responsibility to do their service to protect the public. An engineer needs to poses certain virtues and be of good character in order do what is best not for him/her but for the public, which he/she is serving. Virtue ethics allows for the judgment of an engineer’s professionalism and character. For this reason these virtues are necessary in engineers. An engineer needs to be honest, needs to be accountable, and have a positive attitude. Virtues can be described as tendencies in a person that can desirable by others....   [tags: Ethics, Virtue ethics, Eudaimonia, Happiness]

Strong Essays
802 words (2.3 pages)

Essay on Ethical And Ethical Principles Of Business Ethics

- In the business world there are many fundamental aspects and situations that can lead to several issues. In order to find an optimal and professional solution, business decision makers need to apply moral and ethical standards. And it is at that moment in which business ethics perform its role. Business ethics, which is in charge of examine how companies and individuals should act in business situations, is very essential in order to reach a common agreement and to work within the laws of business and solve an arisen dilemma....   [tags: Ethics, Immanuel Kant, Morality, John Stuart Mill]

Strong Essays
1085 words (3.1 pages)

Ethics And The Ethical Decision Essay examples

- 1 It is not ethical to abandon a dying climber, because lives are the most important thing. This is a Virtue ethics, but sometimes this is a Deontology. Basically, a law bans to kill people. A Nobody knows when their physical condition changes. If they are fine when they start, they should be along on the climb. This is not happiness of majority and rules, so this may be a Virtue ethics. B Yes, it does. The ethical decision is different by each situation. Choosing one life or majority’s lives depends on the situation....   [tags: Virtue ethics, Ethics, Deontological ethics]

Strong Essays
703 words (2 pages)

Essay about The Movie ' Cocoon ' : Relationships, Aging, Decisions And Acceptance

- The movie Cocoon is about life: relationships, aging, decisions and acceptance. It focuses on a group of lovable aging misfits living in Sunny Shores Retirement Home who seem to have gotten the message that friendship, love, comradery and helping others is the key to sanity in old age. Although they each endure age related maladies, three of the men sneak in to a neighboring pool for casual swims to relive the youthful mischief associated with teenagers. Arthur, Ben and Joe notice strange, giant pod formations on the pool’s bottom one day but, swim anyway....   [tags: Old age, Death, Gerontology, Ageing]

Strong Essays
731 words (2.1 pages)

Are Monique 's Actions Ethical? Essay

- A twelve-year-old girl, Monique, comes from a low-income family. There are nights in which Monique does not eat dinner due to her mom never having the money to feed her. The mother always spends her last bit of money on drugs. Monique does not any type of family members that can help her and the mother financially out. One day, Monique goes to her after school program, StreetSquash, and decides to steal snacks from the cabinet so that she will not starve through the night. Are Monique’s actions ethical....   [tags: Ethics, Philosophy, Immanuel Kant]

Strong Essays
1045 words (3 pages)

Essay on Termination And The Ethical Dilemma

- The Fatal Choice Choosing to Terminate the Pregnancy Termination and the Ethical Dilemma While a number of families choose to continue the pregnancy, despite a fatal diagnosis by the physician, there are also countless reasons why families choose to terminate. A few of the determining factors in this decision are, considering the quality of life of the child if they are born, the effect of this on both the family and the child, the severity of the abnormality, and the woman’s age (Lyus, R., Creed, K., Fisher, J., & McKeon, L....   [tags: Pregnancy, Abortion, Fetus, Obstetrics]

Strong Essays
1954 words (5.6 pages)

Essay Ethical Dilemm On Abortion

- Ethical Dilemma Essay on Abortion Nearly every person will encounter an ethical dilemma at some point in their lives and will ponder what the ethical and moral option is. For some people, they will decide based on what they feel is the best option for them, without consulting God for guidance. However, when Christians face an ethical dilemma, they should first refer to the Bible and pray God will show them the option that most closely aligns with what He reveals in His Word. Also, since God is eternally with them and will not forsake them, assisting them and directing them to the most ethical decision; Christians can have reassurance they will make wise decisions with His guidance (Hebrews...   [tags: Pregnancy, Abortion, Ethics, Morality]

Strong Essays
1314 words (3.8 pages)

Ethical Judgement Essay

- Who appoints ethical limits that prevail in our society. Is every individual responsible for their own actions even though their morals may be different from others. Ethical judgments are made for every individual separately and some of them are based on their own emotions or their own reason. There are many factors that influence ethical judgments in a society or culture. In my essay I will use reason and emotion as ways of knowing, because I believe that in order to make an ethical judgment in both the natural sciences and arts a person’s emotion and reason play a role....   [tags: genetic experiments, organs, donation]

Strong Essays
1293 words (3.7 pages)

Marijuana Use: An Ethical Examination Essay

- Works Cited Missing Instead of addressing the tiresome argument about whether or not marijuana should be legalized in the United States, I would like to examine a much more fundamental question: whether or not it is right to use the drug. This problem is strictly an ethical one. If we are to examine only the moral implications of the action then we must discard governmental laws from the equation, for this decision could be made anywhere, at any time, under any sort of governmental regime, under any set of laws, which after all are only that particular government’s best guess at morality and who’s to say their judgment is any better than yours....   [tags: legalization of marijuana]

Strong Essays
1846 words (5.3 pages)