MORALLY RIGHT (KANT AND MILL) 1Student no: 1004746670The Superiority of the Utilitarian Principle as Compared to KantianismStudent No: 1004746670Date: November 9, 2018PHL113H5F | Persons and ValueProfessor. Sergio TenenbaumTA.
Jessica WrightWords: 1328MORALLY RIGHT (KANT AND MILL) 2Student no: 1004746670The Superiority of the Utilitarian Principle as Compared to KantianismIntroductionIt is very difficult to decide what is morally right when it comes to the question of whatdrives or motivates people’s actions. What one deems to be appropriate may not be wellreceived by another because they do not follow the same moral doctrines. Most of the peoplepeg morality on religion while a few like John Mill and Immanuel Kant have a unique viewof the same. In this paper, I would argue that Kantianism is inferior to Utilitarian principle incase of rational beings to be morally right by showcasing that the universal adoption ofKant’s rules would have consequences that no-one would choose to bring about. (Mills,3)Both Kant and Mill elaborate morality using rationality. Kant proposes that one shouldconsider their limits as the biggest guide to their morals and rational being must consideritself as giving universal law through all maxims of its will to judge itself and its actions.(KANT, 51). Mill proposes that happiness should be paramount in deciding what is morallyright or wrong.
The doctrine that the basis of morals is utility, or the greatest happinessprinciple, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness andwrong in proportion as they tend to produce reverse of happiness. (Mill, 5). It is undeniablethat Kant makes a very solid argument for his case.
However, one cannot help but agree withMill that one person can be sacrificed for the greater good especially if it serves many. Forthis paper, the focus will be on the universal principles of morality given by both ImmanuelKant and John Mill.Immanuel Kant proposed that rationality is the supreme principle of morality.
Thisrationality is referred to as categorical imperative. It is an unconditional principle that allmust follow regardless of any inclinations, influences or natural urges that may motivatepeople to the contrary (Kant, 52). According to Kant Acting always in accordance with thatMORALLY RIGHT (KANT AND MILL) 3Student no: 1004746670maxim whose universality as law you can at the same time will is the single condition whichcan never be in conflict itself and such an imperative is categorical. (Kant, 55). Moralityfollows rationality meaning that all immoral actions can be deemed irrational. This ethicaltheory argues that people are simply not just a means to an end but an end itself.
This meansrespecting an individual as opposed to just using them to attain personal gain especially whenit involves them doing stuff that they would not otherwise consent to. Morality is thecondition under which alone a rational being can be an end and is capable of morality andhumanity which has dignity. (Kant, 53).John Mill’s philosophy was quite different from what Kant proposed. The mainprinciple, in this case, was the utility than one can derive from an activity. According to Mill,morality entails doing what yields the maximum utility. Utilitarianism views happiness as theonly desirable thing.
It is an egoist’s view that eventually, individuals’ desire is theirhappiness above everything else. The utilitarian morality does recognize that human beingscan sacrifice their own greatest good for the good of others and it merely refuses to admit thatthe sacrifice is itself a good. It also regards as wasted any sacrifice that doesn’t increase, ortend to increase, the sum of total happiness. (Mill, 12). This doctrine proposes that right orwrong should be determined by the extent to which they promote one’s happiness.
(StanfordEncyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2007).A good example lies in the resolution of community conflicts. In the past where onecommunity was in constant war with another, they had to find a way to appease one anotherand form an alliance. Both communities would go to a great extent to find peace even if itmeant making very big sacrifices. For instance, some would institute matrimony between twoof their members to form a lasting alliance. When it came to the issue of such marriages, thecouple had no say in the matter as long as their parents and elders could consent to it. ThisMORALLY RIGHT (KANT AND MILL) 4Student no: 1004746670was truer especially for the girl than the boy.
In some of these cases, the girl was evenmarried off as a second wife, to a widower or even a man the age of his father.In other instances, the community had to offer one of their members such as a child as apeace offering to another home in the other community. This would mean separating a younginnocent child from its parents. While a matrimonial alliance cannot be deemed immoral,some people would agree that separation of such a child from its’ mother is immoral. Anexample lies in the book; things fall apart. Chinua Achebe describes the unsettling situationthat the community found itself. According to the writer, there was discord among twocommunities, Omuofia and Mbaino because a daughter of Omuofia was killed by members ofMbaino. (ACHEBE, 1959)To resolve the conflict the two communities agreed upon a young man, and a virgin girlfrom Mbaino would be given to the community.
According to Achebe, the young girl wouldreplace the murdered wife while the boy would belong to the whole community before hisfate was decided. (ACHEBE, 1959) The boy was later killed as a sacrifice, and thecommunity claimed that the gods had decided his fate. This is a case that Kant and Mill’sphilosophy would disagree as to how the matter should have been handled best.By Kantian principle handing over the two children of Mbaino to Umuofia wouldcategorize as morally wrong action.
This is because it did not respect the two as individuals.The young girl and the boy were used as just a means to an end. They were a vessel used toresolve a conflict between two communities, a conflict they did not participate. This goesagainst Kant’s belief that human life is valuable because they bear the rationale of life.
(Sirotkin, 2014)On the other hand, Mill would have agreed with most of the judgment calls made in thiscase. According to the Utilitarian principle, this action was the option that bore the mostMORALLY RIGHT (KANT AND MILL) 5Student no: 1004746670utility. (Sirotkin, 2014) This action brought about the most direct utility that the twocommunities would have hoped for.
Mbaino could avert a war that they would have lost andgained many more casualties. On the other hand, Umuofia became contented with thereplacement they got for the man who had lost his wife as well as the young boy they used tomake peace with their ancestors. Judging by this principle the actions of the villagers weremoral even if they did not consider the happiness of the two individuals who were merelyused to an end.To that end, I agree with Mill that the actions taken were the best way in which the twocommunities could have solved the conflict. According to their traditions, this was theprocedure for resolving such conflicts. Tradition’s aside, some cases call for limiting one’shappiness to attain the overall good. This is a concept that all people can relate to even whenit comes to the issue of human rights. One is free to exercise their rights if they do not violateanother’s.
In the same way, one’s happiness is important if it is not the hindrance to theoverall good.ConclusionWhat is morally right or wrong will differ from one person to the other in most cases.One must find out their limits and decide which course of action they would best live with. Ibelieve it is easier to live in a world where one person’s happiness can be taken away for thegood of all rather than one person being viewed as a rational being while they cannot offer touse their position to gain an overall advantage. This beats the whole rationality concept of thesaid individual.MORALLY RIGHT (KANT AND MILL) 6Student no: 1004746670ReferencesKant, Immanuel. Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, edited by Allen W.
Wood,Yale University press, 2002Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill, 2008The Definition of Morality (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). (2002, April 17).Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/Sirotkin, R.
(2014, October 19). Kantianism ; Utilitarianism | PH115: Introduction to Ethics.Retrieved from https://scholarblogs.emory.edu/millsonph115/2014/10/19/kantianismutilitarianism/Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (2004, February 23). Kant’s Moral Philosophy(Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).
Retrieved fromhttps://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-moral/Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (October 9).
Mill’s Moral and Political Philosophy(Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Retrieved fromhttps://plato.stanford.
edu/entries/mill-moral-political/ACHEBE, C. H. (1959). THINGS FALL APART. S.l.: PENGUIN BOOKS.