Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Plato, and Aristotle: Morals and Ethical Codes

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What is the appropriate action? It is a controversial question that is a focal point for moral and ethical codes. Morals and ethics is, of course, a subject that runs deep in the discussion of philosophy. People are faced with moral dilemmas everyday, which many times society decides without thoroughly exploring their options. Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Plato, and Aristotle are philosophers that focus on the topic of ethics, yet all have different outlooks.

Kant is considered a non-consequentiality, which means he feels the intentions motives, and good will is more important than the results or consequences of an action. The backbone of Kant's philosophy is the belief in the fundamental freedom of the individual. Kant did not indicate anarchy, but the idea of self-government and the creation and obedience of universal laws. He believed the moral value of an action is assessed not from the purpose of the action, but from the "maxim" from which the action springs. He defines a maxim as personal policy in the cause-effect framework. Kant said that a person should only act on these maxims that could be willed into universal laws. In order to create a universal law, the action must be done out of good will or a pure hearted motive. Kant felt that you cannot do something wrong from a right motive. A person should act because it is the right thing to do and for no other reason. In addition, the motive must be related when considering moral value. A person should not be given credit for committing a morally valuable act when they did it only for the reward. Kant even rejects unselfish motives because to act solely for the happiness of others suggest that if our actions did not always evoke happiness then we would have no obligation to do it.

Kant focused more on the motives and intentions of an action to measure value, where Mill focuses more on the ultimate end of the action. Mill's principle states that an action is "right" in relation to...
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