Utilitarianism and Kantianism

Utilitarianism refers to the idea which holds that the ethical value of an action is determined by its usefulness in offering pleasure or happiness when summed up amongst every sentiment being. Utilitarianism is also referred to as the principle of the greatest happiness. Kantianism on the other hand refers to the ideas of Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher, which holds that a person should do things because those things are right to do. This paper will discuss the theories of Utilitarianism and Kantianism, their flaws and a drawn comparison between Act Utilitarianism, Rule Utilitarianism and Kantianism (Stephen, Engels  Michael, 2004).

The act utilitarianism
Act utilitarianism is part of the theory of utilitarianism. According to act utilitarianism, the gauge for the worth of an action is determined the sum by which the action increases general happiness or utility. An action should be favored instead of its alternatives in accordance to the degree of increase it accomplishes, compared to the degree its alternatives would accomplish. It utilizes the greatest happiness principle which states that for every situation, choose the option that you believe to be most likely to produce the greatest possible pleasure or happiness for all the people affected. As such, in following the principle of the act utilitarianism one would determine whether an action, for example bank robbery is right or not depending on the degree of happiness it would generate to all the affected parties. To measure the happiness, the person should make use of hedonistic calculus, to add up total happiness to everybody affected. If the result of the hedonistic calculus shows that the police, the investors and the bank managers will be unhappy while the robber and his family will be happy, then it is wrong to rob a bank.

The flaws of act utilitarianism
One main flaw of this act is that a number of actions could produce a higher degree of happiness if they were to be done secretly and less pleasure if they done publicly. Act utilitarianism may also appear unjust for the reason that a hedonistic calculus might suggest it is correct to cut off a persons rights because that will add to the general happiness and pleasure in the universe. According to Act utilitarianism, any action generating pain to a small group of guiltless people is correct so long as the larger part of the universe is pleased with it. Another hitch with the act shows that a persons feelings are not considered only the outcome is important.  Several other flaws with the act utilitarianism ideas are that if  someone has never gone through a similar circumstance, they will not be able to carry out a hedonistic calculus since they cannot know whether the affected people shall be pleased or not.  It may also be impossible to judge against different peoples pleasure and happiness.

Rule utilitarian
The rule states that, the rightness or wrongness of a particular action is a function of the correctness of the rule of which it is an instance. Thus the moral good of a rule is measured by the degree of good it created when it has been followed. In rule utilitarianism, the goal is to pursue the rule that will have the most excellent results if followed.

The flaws of rule utilitarianism
The critics of this rule suggest that it eventually breaks down into act utilitarianism. This is because in the event any rule broken produces better utility, such a rule can be modified by adding subs rule which considers the cases as desired. Eventually, the entire rule will contain some sub-rules for the exceptional cases and as such, the people will end up tilting the rules so that they can fit the consequences they consider to be most pleasurable. Rule utilitarianism also encourages a non thinking compliance to rule. This is because, people might not do something because it is morally right or will produce the best results, but only so long as it is in accordance with the rules that have been set. Furthermore, the rule faces dilemma because according to the rule, there may be strict rule followers or the rule modifiers. Therefore, the same rule might not work unanimously among all the people because some may follow the rule strictly while others may modify it by implementing the sub rules.

Immanuel Kants deontological moral theory evaluates if actions are ethical based on a persons intention of doing or will. Kantianism is classified as a deontological for the reason that the actions are never assessed as being morally acceptable on the foundation of the outcome they produce, but on the type of the persons will in doing.. Kantianism rests upon three major principles categorical imperative, willing, and maxims.

According to Kant, a maxim refers to a general principle that explains what someone takes themselves to do as well as the situation in which they take themselves to do it. Willing concerns the persons consistency in committing themselves to ensure that an action occurs. Categorical imperative is also crucial in Kantianism. The significance of categorical imperative is that a person ought to take action in such a manner that he can be able to will the maxim following a persons acts that can be considered part of universal law.

The difference between Kantianism and utilitarianism
Both Kantianism and utilitarianism measure morals in diverse ways. Kantianism argues that an action is considered moral because of two reasons if done for purposes of obligation and if the maxim of the action is willed as being a universal law. Utilitarianism, on the other hand, only sees the action as ethically acceptable if the results of the action generate maximum value and pleasure for all those involved. They also differ in the methods in which the rules are implemented. Kantianism values universal law along with maxims as the guidelines for the way people ought to behave in a particular situation. Maxims explain some universal kind of situation, and then suggests some type of deed for the condition. Adopting a maxim is committing oneself to act in the expressed way every time the condition arises.

The problem with both Kantianism and Utilitarianism
The problem that plagues the two theories lies on the fact that there is no gauge which determines exactly what is good or what is wrong.  Morals and ethics change from one setting to another and as such it becomes difficult for either of the two theories to apply universally. Although Kantianism argues that morality is absolute and not relative, it is the absolute morals that differ in relation to culture, religion and the geological setting in context. What is seen as a vice in one society could be a virtue in another society. Thus neither Kant nor Mills provides a universally applicable theory of morality.

Kantianism is therefore a logical and rational theory where choices can be properly made. In contrast, Utilitarianism does not have universal rules upon which morals are based consequently they evaluate and judge every circumstance individually. Kantianism offers a more reasonable account of morals although from outside, it may seem like Utilitarianism could be more moral theory since it seeks to make the most of utility. Utilitarianism necessitates that we should first compute the good as well as the bad outcomes of any action then we determine if the entire good outcomes outweighs total bad outcomes. If the good consequences are greater, then the action is morally proper. This procedure is very subjective, implying that it cannot be collectively applied while Kantianism can be.


Post a Comment