Kant vs. Mills

533 Words3 Pages
When a choice is made, often the question is asked: "was it the right decision?". For thousands of years, humans have struggled with the idea of the morality of their actions. This has resulted in a multitude of belief systems regarding the nature of actions. In the system of Utilitarianism, the ends justify the means, and actions are judged on the results, not on the intentions or motives. On the other hand, the antithesis of the Utilitarian ideal, is Immanuel Kant. For Kant, the end results were not important in determining whether an action was just or not. Motive was everything to him, and he had very strict views on how to judge the morality of an action. In society these days, Utilitarianism is the name of the game. The basic philosophy of Utilitarianism, the idea of the greatest good for the greatest amount, is one of the basic building blocks of the democratic system. If a person lives on the principles of Utilitarianism, they disregard the motives involved in an action. Utilitarians try to separate the action from the actor, and look at the bigger picture over the individual. Followers of Kant (among others) disagree with this approach, and claim that in this system, minorities and individuals are often overlooked and brushed aside. Kant argues that any action cannot be moral unless the motives are moral. For each of these philosophies, the question of living the "good life" is an intricate part of the belief system. For the Utilitarians, living a life that benefited as many people as possible, in essence, a life that caused the greatest widespread good results would be considered a life of virtue. For Kant, the only moral action is one that is done entirely because of obligation. He also makes the distinction between motives, saying that an action can be "in accord with duty" and still be immoral. An example of this would be if a person owes money to a
Open Document