Utilitarianism Vs. Deontology

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Utilitarianism maintains that the moral worth of any action is determined solely by whether the ac- tion’s outcome is useful in maximizing utility. Utility is understood as pleasure (transcending primi- tive and “sensational” pleasures that also animals can feel) and the absence of pain. Utilitarianism comprises certain core principles. In order to evaluate an action, its likely outcomes need to be consi- dered with regard to their utility level. The question whether an action is due to good intentions is subordinate (consequentialism). For the evaluation of the consequences of an action, individual utili- ties are aggregated by adding all individual utilities. Utilitarianism is universalistic, as utilities of each individual agent are considered equal. This understanding implies intuitive contradiction. E.g. the life of beloved relatives seems intuitively more important than the life of strangers. Deontology judges the moral worth of an action based on the action’s inherent intentions and its adhe- rence to rules. Actions can therefore be intrinsically good or bad without considering the conse- quences. Only actions that contain features which make them suitable to be universal laws are morally good (categorical imperative). This does not imply that an agent’s individual moral point of view de- fines actions as good or bad but it does imply that ubiquitously valid moral rules determine an agent’s actions while their potentially negative consequences are subordinate. Humans are treated as objects of intrinsic moral value, i.e. as ends in themselves, not as means to some other end (e.g. overall utility). The fundamental difference of the two theories becomes manifest in their basic assumptions. While utilitarianism considers only empirical observations of human behavior as valid and deducts moral doctrine from empirical reality, deontology develops moral rules not

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