Contrasting Views of Morality Between Utilitarianism and Kantianism

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For as long as society existed, there have been attempts of defining morality. Morality is the boundary between a hero and a villain. In TV shows and cartoons, we learned that heroes, regardless how strong the temptation, would choose to do the right thing rather than what’s easy, whereas villains would do anything and everything within their power to get what they want. An example of this contrast is Batman and the Joker. Batman never breaks his one rule to kill, despite of the cruel things the Joker did to tempt him. The Joker on the other hand would do anything to entertain himself, even killing innocent lives. Only when there is a set of rules that draws a boundary between right and wrong can there be order and peace within the society. There have been many theories in attempt to encompass all aspects of morality in life, however this task is as diverse as life itself. Two of those theories, Kantianism and Utilitarianism were studied. While both theories failed to flawlessly describe the boundaries of morality, Kantianism was determined to be more supportable due to its rigid structure and clearer guideline between right and wrong, and thus more efficiently prevents egoists rationalizing moral laws as a means to attain their inclinations.

In perspective of Utilitarianism, the boundary that defines right verses wrong is determined via the consequence of that action. If the consequences are positive, then that action would be considered moral. The concept of Utilitarianism is based off of all actions are performed based on achieving pleasure and exemption from pain. However it should be noted that Utilitarianism is not to achieve the greatest pleasure for personal needs, but rather have the greatest happiness together, as a society. And the ultimate goal is to cultivate a society of noble individuals who would sacrifice their individual pleasures for the happiness of others. A deed is considered moral if it would produce net pleasure or avoidance of pain to everyone whom you interact with, and ultimately the society itself. Therefore, before any decisions are made and actions taken, an ethical person should weigh out the pros and cons of each choice and determine which decision is most worthy of the pain in order to achieve the most benefit for society. While there are some truths to this theory, there are also many criticisms. First, it over-simplifies the complex human psychology into that of the lowly swine. Towards this criticism, Mill explained that if the source of pleasure for humans is the same as for swine, then humans would receive the same level of pleasure as the swine. However, with the incorporation of human emotions and the imagination, it allows humans to experience of higher level pleasure which beasts cannot. As a counter argument, Mill argued that the unhappiness of sinking human beings to a level of lower existence, which we named pride, and the attempt to give explanations to this degrading accusation is precisely an example of avoiding the pain of insult and to please our pride. Another problem is that Utilitarianism turns humans into cold and unsympathetic calculating machines. In order to calculate the net benefit, every motion and every breath could cause an event. To calculate this, one would have to be able to predict the future to make an conclusive outcome. Also, Utilitarianism does not have a clear boundary of acts of morality, hence, it is very easy for an egoistic individual to manipulate the moral law to satisfy his/her selfish desires. And thus, the consequences may or may not produce a net benefit. For example, criminal lawyers often use this tactic to ameliorate their client’s act of murder, if the victim happens to be a serial rapist. In the view of Utilitarianism, this act of murder is considered to be a moral act since it provided a overall net benefit to the society. Kantianism on the other hand is completely inconsequential. Kant emphasized the value...
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