Kant believed strictly in moral rules. He prohibited anything that did not follow moral law, even in the cases where the action would bring about more happiness than the alternative. Kant believes that there are two moral questions that we must ask ourselves every time we perform an act. The first being, “Can I rationally will that everyone act as I propose to act? ” If the answer is no, then we must not perform the action. The second being, “Does my action respect the goals of human beings rather than merely using them for my own purposes? ” Again, if the answer is no, then we must not perform the action.
Kant’s theory is only based off of our duty to do the right thing. He is not concerned of the ends of the action and consequences are not taken into account. The rightness or wrongness of the action is based off of our duty to God and ourselves. Kant believes a person’s good will is based off of the motivation of our action, not based off of the goodness of the consequences. So our consequences would have nothing to do with the morality of the action. Kant believes that our moral worth comes from doing an action strictly out of duty even if we despise doing that action.
For example, if we give charity money just because we can it would not be moral. We have to give money out of our duty. Kant has a universal law such that, “act only on that maxim that can be willed as a universal law. ” For example, if you plug killing into this formula it is obviously not moral. Killing cannot be ruled as a universal law because it is wrong. But say for instance if you are fighting a war against a country that plans to have world domination and mass destruction. Can killing be a good thing because it will bring out the betterment of society?
Kant says no. In all instances killing will be wrong. If you plug lying into this law it is also wrong. Kant believes lying in all instances would be considered wrong. This can also be questioned. Say if your friend asks you, “Do I look fat in this dress? ” and you don’t want to hurt her feelings, Kant believes if you say no, that it is immoral. Kant has a formula of humanity. This formula states, “act so as the treat humanity, in yourself or in another person as always an end and never as a means only. ” Kant says that we have duties to others and ourselves.
Kant believes that our moral actions to others are; to tell the truth, assist others in need, don’t break promises, help others achieve goals, don’t steal, murder, or enslave people. Kant also believes our moral actions to ourselves are; no suicide or other forms of destruction and to develop talents. He believes in perfect and imperfect duties. Kant says the perfect duty to act on no maxims that use people as means only. Also, the imperfect duty is to act on some maxims that promote people as ends. Utilitarianism’s goal is to produce the best outcome possible.
It says, “the action is right which produces the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. ” Utilitarianism is based off of a form of consequentialism, which states that, “the consequences of any action are the only standard of right and wrong. ” This is the complete opposite of Kantianism. It also is based off of hedonism which states that,” the only thing that has value in itself is pleasure. ” This also is opposed to Kantianism because if we act out of pleasure it is not always moral. Our motives for performing the action may not be right.
To decide what to act upon we would have to lie out the utilities and dis-utilities of every action. Whichever has the greatest result is what you do. If you take killing into account here it says that it will be okay if, “the outcome produces the most happiness for the most people. ” Say if the country were to be in war then it would be okay to kill, because it will produce a better outcome. If we take lying into account if the lying produces the best outcome possible, then it is okay to lie in that situation. Hedonism can lead to an immoral life.
We start to live life based on what we desire. Say in a foreign country, what made the most people happy was to kill innocent children. This clearly is immoral. There in no morality behind Utilitarianism the only thing produced is the most happiness. This is where error comes in. Utilitarianism and Kantianism are both impractical. If we were to take a case such as the man stuck in the cave, we can see why. With Kantianism it says to leave the man stuck in the cave because it is wrong to kill him. Utilitarianism would say to kill the man because it would be for the betterment of everybody else.
If we take the murderer at the door case, Kant says it is always wrong to lie even if a murder was asking where his victim is. If we do lie and the murder still finds the victim, then we would be partially responsible for another’s wrong doing. If this is true, Kant is saying to respect the murder more then the victim. If you look at this case in a Utilitarianism view the right thing would be to lie because it is for the good intentions of the other person. The lying to the murderer outweighs the protection of the other person.
This would be even if it were the case of not liking the victim. Your loyalty is to the victim not the murderer. So telling the truth in this case would automatically make it wrong or immoral. In conclusion, Kantianism and Utilitarianism are both looked at as flawed. They both deal with the basic questions, but if other factors become involved the theories become misconstrued. I believe both views have to be tweaked. Kantianism and Utilitarianism are theories still often followed today. Each of them is faulty and has to be looked at closely.