Professor Baudelaire K. Ulysse
30 July 2012
Utilitarianism v. Kantianism
The topic that I have chosen to use for my research paper is comparing the two ethical theories Utilitarianism and Immanuel Kant’s Deontology (Kantianism). The basic argument made by Utilitarianism is that morale decision should be made on the basis of whichever choice provides the most pleasure for the greatest number of people. On the opposite side, Kantianism’s basic argument is more like a law in which certain actions are strictly prohibited regardless of the outcome of those actions. Also, according to Kantianism decision making is based on whether or not that certain action should become a universal law. For example, if Kantianism is being used, stealing would be considered a morally wrong action because it shouldn’t become a universal law, regardless of how many people benefit from the action. I choose to compare these two ethical theories because in my perspective they are polar opposites of each other. Utilitarianism is arguing, “ANY action is morally right if it creates the greatest amount of pleasure for the most amounts of people.” This includes murder, stealing, lying, etc. On the other hand, Kantianism is clearly stating some actions are always bad, no matter what could come out of those actions.
During the Industrial Revolution is the time period that utilitarianism is known to have come into being (Shanahan and Wang 103). This is because economics was becoming a viable science (Shanahan and Wang 103). Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill are seen as the two main proponents of utilitarianism. “Utilitarian ethics concerns the problem of how to produce the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people” (Shanahan and Wang 103). This definition sometimes makes utilitarianism an economic problem. A utilitarian viewpoint is that good equals happiness, while bad equals pain and has no value at all (Neff 2). The two measures would be...