Applied Ethics 1

Topics: Ethics, Immanuel Kant, Morality Pages: 4 (1212 words) Published: April 10, 2012
Question:
4. How could the utilitarians look at making a false promise? How can the Kantians look at making a false promise? Do you think that utilitarianism is better than Kantian ethics?

Introduction:
A False promise means “a promise that is made with no intention of carrying it out and esp. that is made with intent to deceive or defraud”. Nowadays, making false promises has become ubiquitous in our daily life. Is it a right action or not? Based on Kantian ethic and Utilitarianism, there are different views in making a false promise.

Utilitarians’ view in making a false promise
For Utilitarianism, it looks at the consequence of an action for all those people affected by the action. If the overall balance of happiness over unhappiness is its consequence, the action is right; unhappiness over happiness, it is wrong.(Chan Chun Fai’ s notes, Moral Theories, p.2) Also, the principle of utility applied to it is generally expressed as “Always act to produce greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. “ (Chan Chun Fai’s Power Point)

For example, Betty has made a false promise to Peter. She borrowed some money from Tom as to travel to Taiwan with her friends and promised him that she would return money to him after one week. So, Tom was glad to lean her money. Betty made a false promise to have enough money travelling with their friends and her friends were so thrilled about that although Tom would feel depressed about it. However, this action produces greatest happiness for the greatest number of people that Betty and her friends felt happy while only Tom felt unhappy. Therefore, it is considered as a right thing to do.

But for rule-utilitarianism (RU), it is treated as a wrong action because RU looks at the consequence of a rule and the principle of utility is applied to a rule. Also, if everyone following the rule could produce good consequence, then we should abide by that rule—a right rule. (Chan Chun Fai’s Power Point) In this situation,...
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