Kantists and Utilitarians

Freshman (College 1st year) ・Philosophy ・MLA

Essay 1

The former of the two positions, Immanuel Kant's and Utilitarian's, is the more defensible. Kant argues that treating a fellow human as a mere means to an end without showing any respect and as an end in and of itself is not moral by any meaning. Based on this claim, Kant stresses the importance of seeing other humans as the end of themselves at any given time in our interactions with them. These methods take into account the consequences of our decisions on them. On the other hand, reasonable belief holds that using innocent people to maximize good for many people is acceptable. Kant’s view and utilitarians can be best explained through an analogy of a case.
The first case scenario to explain the scenario is an accident situation. For instance, a person may make a false promise to compel another to achieve a specific goal, which may be beneficial to an expanded number of people. In another case, a father may con a person to acquire money to feed his children, or sit down and wait for the children to the day of hunger. The two scenarios are likely to attract different view from Kant and those who believe in Utilitarianism. Notably, Kant would argue that the use of deceit translates to using a person as a means to an end and is immoral irrespective of the outcome. On the other hand, Utilitarian subscribers such as Bethan would argue that the action is right as long as it leads to the desired outcome, in this case saving lives in both of the scenarios.
Based on the case example, irrespective of the nature of the situation, a person cannot justify the use of others as a mere means to an end. It is immoral based on the assertions of Kant. While the utilitarian will not view holds that it is justified to merely as a person to accomplish a given goal, for the goodness of the majority. In the false promise case, Kant would advocate for a genuine persuasion rather than reliance on the intentional use of false promise to convince a person. Kant proposes the view of persons and the end themselves, which means that they should be granted an opportunity to make rational void of any form of undue influence.
According to Kant, the use of a fellow human “merely as a means to an end” amounts to disrespect. Each human is endowed with the ability to reason and make rational decisions. Any attempt to merely use a person as a stepping-stone towards achieving a given goal translates to underestimate their capacity to reason. Such is equivalent to disrespecting a person. For instance, making a false promise as elaborated above circumvents the rational agency of the person to whom a false promise is made. One objection to the argument by Kant is that reality is at times uncomfortable. In response to this objection, I hold the view that lying in itself is immoral and should not be exemplified by persons committed to a rational course. Also, the assertion that people should be viewed as the ends themselves means that we should not use other persons to achieve anything in life. While this objection seems rational, I believe that we could still inform people about their assistance in an achieving something. However, from a personal viewpoint, Kant has not discovered an absolute rule of morality. Such is based on the premise that not all immoral conducts emanate from using other persons. However, both Kant’s theory and Bentham’s theory have flaws. Kantian approach entirely neglects the consequences of a moral action since the argument does not explain what happens if one is faced with more than one obligation to fulfill. Similarly, Bentham’s happiness principle theory justifies pain or harm to others. Utilitarianism justifies slavery, rape, murder, and bullying. In my opinion, before deciding if an action is right or wrong, we should first determine the scope of our dilemma, deliberate on the benefits and drawbacks and thus apply the theory we deem appropriate.

Essay 2

In the case study, the decision to kill one person to save five patients would be handled differently by both Kant and Bentham. Kant’s deontology posits that morality is a function of duty. According to Kant, we are obligated morally to do that which is good and to avoid that which is bad. Also, the theory posits that the rightness of an action is not based on its outcomes. Based on the case at hand, as a doctor, one’s duty is to work towards ensuring the preservation of life and not a destruction of life. Kant believes that the only way moral goodness can exist is if human beings act rationally by apprehending what they ought to do and acting with a sense of obligation and responsibility. Thus, this is the only thing that brings moral value. According to this explanation, the worth of human beings is absolute and not comparable to anything else in the world. Therefore, Kant would advise that as a doctor, I should not rely on the organs of the pizza delivery persons, as this amounts to destruction of life, which is contrary to the duty of a doctor.
On the contrary, Bentham and Utilitarians believe otherwise. Bentham, in this case, would consider the act that maximizes utility. For Jeremy Bentham, the outcome of an action is the standard that justifies an actor wrong. He believed that the principle of utility influences moral decisions and is based on the net happiness.
Utilitarian arguments, the killing of the delivery person is justified as only one life will be lost compared to the five lives at stake. In objection to this action, Kant would argue that no life is valuable and harvesting organs from a healthy individual is a compromise on the duty of care provision. Such means that such an action would lead to the destruction of life rather than the preservation of life, which is the duty of a doctor. In support of this position, Bentham would argue that it is disastrous to lose five people at a time compared to losing one person. In objection to the action, Kant would argue that the killing the delivery person is immoral, as it does not echo responsibility to the duty of care. The doctor ought to find alternative donors of the needed organs genuinely rather than harvest them from the delivery person without consent.
Of the two theories, I subscribe to the provisions of Kant’s deontology. However, some objections are apparent to this moral principle. Kant’s theory, the rightness of an action is dependent on the action itself and not the outcomes. Absolute application of this theory is implausible in certain situations. Secondly, the theory of deontology is also objected by being inflexible. Application of the theory does not give room for other options, especially in circumstances where a wrong action such as lying would lead to a positive outcome. From a personal viewpoint, such criticisms are only based on probabilities and not realities. In most cases, Kant’s deontological theory is applicable.

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