How Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill Contributed to the Philosophy Principle in the 18th and 19th Century
Immanuel Kant, who was a German, was born in 1724 and died in 1804. He is considered to be a modern figure of philosophy as his viewpoint talked about the fundamental concepts of the human mind along with other important philosophical conceptions that are still recognized to this day, like epistemology and ethics, this is referred to as Kantianism . On the other hand, Utilitarianism was a concept primarily associated with Jeremy Bentham , who was an English philosopher, a jurist and social reformer, and John Stuart Mill , who was also an English philosopher, political economist, feminist, and civil servant. They both contributed to this principle in philosophy of the 18th and 19th century.
Kantianism defines that all rational beings have dignity and should be respected, this means that one’s happiness is getting what one wants, signifying that contentment is not to do the right thing, but it is pleasure without pain. In his book ‘The Metaphysical Principles of Virtue’, Kant defines happiness as the “continuous well-being, enjoyment of life, complete satisfaction with one’s condition”. He explains his perspective on the subject by saying one will be content when all his needs and desires are fulfilled . Kant describes morality as the categorical imperative. This states that for one to act morally is to do good, and for one to do good is to act morally. Therefore, unlike other philosophical theories about morality, that state the relativity of morality with happiness, Kantianism does not, it states that it is one thing to be moral (to do good) and another thing to be happy (do what one wants). This is because what one wants can be either good or evil, and morality depends on what one does, not on their wanting .
Utilitarianism is known to be the most powerful and persuasive perspective to philosophical ethics. This aspect wasn’t developed completely until the 19th century when the classical utilitarians, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill identified the Principle of Utility. It states that happiness is the only good. Moreover, utility is defined as usefulness, thus doing something is useful and leads to happiness it is a good act in a rational being. But when one does something that is done for his own pleasure and is decreasing the happiness of someone else, it is not considered as good will. Utilitarianism follows a form of consequentialism, this means that the moral worth of an action is only determined by its outcome, thus if an outcome of an action is beneficial it is considered to be a good act, while if something results in a negative outcome, it is a bad act . Jeremy Bentham made up a method to calculate the different types of pleasure and pain on the evaluation of the action’s consequences; it is called the Bentham’s Hedonic Calculus. He believed that with the help of this method rational being are able to make sensible decisions. This calculus involved 7 criteria including: duration, intensity, if it’s near or remote, how widely does it cover, what is its probability, how free of pain is it and if it leads to further pleasure. John Stuart Mill created the principle of Rule Utilitarianism. It states that an action is good if its leads to greater good and happiness of the common as the principle of utility holds that everyone’s’ happiness should be considered and everyone should be treated equally.
One can come to an understanding that, while both Kantianism and Utilitarianism state that acts that one does that leads to their happiness are good acts, but then Kantianism disagrees with Utilitarianism in terms of morality. Kant believed that morality is based on the person’s intentions, if one has a good will and intends to go good, that is all that matters. On the other hand, Utilitarianism states that morality is based upon the outcome of the action, therefore if the result is right for the greater good (majority of the people) it is a rightful action .
From my point of view, I believe that both theories have a good understanding, but both have exceptions that do not follow the theory, but I mostly agree with the principles of Kant, where he states that the intention is moral. Regarding the aspect of both theories on happiness, I disagree with both as I believe that a good act is one that leads to happiness.
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Immanuel Kant, who was a German, was born in 1724 and died in 1804. He is considered to be a modern figure of philosophy as his viewpoint talked about the […]