Kant and Mill on Motives

Topics: Ethics, Utilitarianism, Philosophy Pages: 1 (400 words) Published: October 18, 2005
What makes something right? In the study of philosophy, there are many views of what is right and what is wrong. Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill have differing viewpoints of this topic. John Stuart Mill has a philosophy known as Utilitarianism. In this way of thinking, ethics are based on the maximization of pleasure. In other words, it's based on the consequences of a given action. The basic principle of Utilitarianism is that "actions are right in so far as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness" – happiness equals the absence of pain. Mill also touches on the fact that the quality, not only the quantity of pleasure matters. He illustrates this by saying it is "better to be a human dissatisfied than a pig satisfied." This view is different than that of Kant. Immanuel Kant's take on our motives of ethics is that we are controlled by reason. He says, "There is no possibility of thinking of anything at all in the world, or even out of it, which can be regarded as good without qualification, except a good will." Kant believes that acts are seen as good only if one's actions are done from the motive of duty. Duty to their fellow man. But, without this duty, one must act on an inclination, using reason, that a particular action is morally good. Kant admits that doubt can always be raised as to the possibility of our ever acting from a disinterested sense of duty, that "there have always been philosophers who have absolutely denied the reality of this disposition in human actions and have ascribed everything to a more or less refined self-love." I personally agree with Mill more than I do with Kant. You can go around any day of the week and see different people making different decisions based on what the outcome of that decision will bring. For instance, if a person is driving to work in a hurry, driving recklessly, they will still stop for a red light. Why? Because of the consequences that can...
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