Ethics: How Should I Live My Life

Powerful Essays
April 15, 2011

How Should I Live?
Immanual Kant vs. Jon Stuart Mill

In their works “Principle of Utility” and the “Categorically Imperative” the philosophers Kant and Mill have addressed one of the most prominent questions humans have asked ourselves since the beginning of time; what are the fundamental moral principles that we should base our lives on? My intent is to show how each of these philosophers in their approach this subject yielding totally different results. I will compare and contrast and ultimately determine which of their philosophies I personally find better suited to my own way of life. I will also point out when sometimes you can have circumstances when they do not contradict each other.
“Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain and the privation of pleasure” Classics of Moral and Political Theory, 3rd edition p.398).

The purpose of the above passage is to define that the moral choice according to Mill. According to him when presented with a choice of actions to take, the correct and moral action is to choose the one which will produce in its consequences the greatest amount of pleasure and the least amount of pain in the world.
To help understand his concept I present the following scenarios in which we would need to make a moral choice according to the above framework. Let’s suppose that while driving we are stopped at a traffic light and a couple of young kids ask you for a donation to help them make a trip to another state for their National Little League Championship. The outcome seems to depend on how much you need the money. If you were out of a job, struggling to make payments on the rent or food for example giving away your money will definitely decrease your own happiness more than it would increase the happiness of others. However if you have some disposable income giving

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