Contrasting Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill |
As I make decisions each and every day, usually I take into consideration the consequences of my decisions and how it will or will not benefit me. Two early philosophers named Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill give us different approaches on how we should make our decisions and why we should make them. In this paper I will compare and contrast the philosophy of both Kant and Mill, specifically their ethics. I will discuss the differences between Kant’s practical imperative and Mill’s idea of the principle of utility and how each were to approach the same moral issue.
When most people think of ethics or morals, they think of rules for distinguishing between right and wrong, such as the Golden Rule "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"), a religious creed like the Ten Commandments ("Thou Shalt not kill..."). This is the most common way of defining ethics is norms for conduct that distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
Most people learn ethical norms at home, at school, in church, or in other social settings. Although most people acquire their sense of right and wrong during childhood, moral development occurs throughout life and human beings pass through different stages of growth as they mature. Ethical norms are so ubiquitous that one might be tempted to regard them as simple commonsense. On the other hand, if morality were nothing more than commonsense, then why are there so many ethical disputes and issues in our society?
One plausible explanation of these disagreements is that all people recognize some common ethical norms but different individuals interpret, apply, and balance these norms in different ways in light of their own values and life experiences.
Immanuel Kant lived during the 18th and 19th century. Kant’s contributions to ethics have been just as substantial, if not more so, than his work in metaphysics and epistemology. He is the...