The Kantianism vs Utilitarianism

The first thing we learn when we come into this world as babies is that our parents have a big part in how we turn out. Our parents try their best to sculpt us into their perfect imagination of the perfect child. They tell us what is proper and what is not, and as we grow up and evolve in this world we tend to grow with more questions and more confusions of what is right and wrong. We spend more of our time thinking about morality, what makes action morally right or morally right, questions that are usually answered but leave you with the choice of ethical moral choices. In this paper I will try to explain how and why Utilitarianism theory and Kantianism are different and also why I believe one theory is more guidable than the other.

To begin, lets define Kant’s duty and utilitarianism, Utilitarianism is the view that actions are morally permissible if and only if they produce at least as much new happiness as any other available action. In other words, more happiness and less suffering from our actions. According to utilitarianism “any other action is morally wrong”. Utilitarianism has been around for a long time, but it gained its popularity around the 18th century due to a British philosopher named Jeremy Bentham. Bentham was an active socialist and political guy, he was a defender of, economic liberalization, women rights, animal rights, and the right to divorce among other rights. Bentham recognized the moral importance of these rights, many of which are now controversial. Aspects of utilitarianism can be broken to two parts, a theory of what is valuable, and a theory of right actions given what’s valuable. Which states that the only thing that is valuable on its own rights is happiness and the absence of suffering.

Utilitarianism focuses on action taking for greater good and does not focus on the action of an individual on the basis of personal benefit. Bentham and Kant will be the basis for this paper according to their insightful argument on the two theories. Bentham basis the Utilitarianism theory on argument that on the carrying out of action by an individual not for their own good but rather carrying out the ethical obligated action or carrying out the action based on the interest or the feeling of the persons or individual the action is being administered to. The theory argues that whenever we take an action it should not be for our own personal benefit or advantage but to the benefit of greater good of other party receiving the action. It further obligates the doing of the action to oversee greater gain for instance to benefit many people rather than the few the action will affect negatively. For a particular case instance, there might be someone suffering due to their own misconception to something and we are in a position where we can offer help, we should carry out the action of helping those individuals without considering the gain we will have due to the action execution and put into interest how the person we are helping will gain or will have a benefit from the action.

On the other hand Kant describes the Kantianism basis on argument solely opposite to this. If we are in a position to carry out an action for instance, helping someone, the action should be considered of worth according to our self-individual evaluation on the situation and not for other parties interest rather than ourselves, for particular example we can look at it this way: I am in a position to help someone and I can be able to offer the help, my action taking should not be based on the person benefiting from the actions I take but on my own feeling towards the action. I will decide to offer them my help just because I feel like, it benefits me or I want to but not because the person will be in the need for the help or will benefit from it (Cholbi).

Utilitarianism then focuses on the good of the action towards the world and towards a large number benefit. It measures the action need and executions on the fact that I am taking the action for the general good of others and my feelings have nothing to do with the decision of execution of the action. The general good is measured according to the number of people who will benefit from the action and not the harm the action will do to the fewer people involved in the action. A situation may require one to do something that is solely bad but the end result is advantageous to a million people. a group of ten people may be planning to bomb an underground train station which will kill one million people, in that situation Utilitarianism would advise that it is okay to kill the ten people as the million people on the train station will benefit from this action while for Kantianism, the killing of the ten individuals will be solely based on how I feel towards their action or also how I feel towards the world. If I decide to kill the ten it will be okay I really don’t have to consider the millions that will benefit from the action and if I decide that the world according to me is not worth the hustle I may leave the ten to do what they want to do as it is all about how I feel or how I decide to take my action with no one else in consideration (Cholbi).

The two theories compares in that both of them do not really intensify on the action or do not weigh the action itself but they put more weight on the outcome of the action. The action may good or bad, the outcome may be good and worth it according to the theories, it may be beneficial to the doers or the receivers and may not be anyways but the two theories focuses on the receiving party, the reasons for the action and the befits of the outcome. Could term it as a limitation for the two theories as we should first consider the action itself rather than the outcome as the action is also important. Hence the two theories are similar and are weak as in Utilitarianism, the total good counts but the action may not be so good measuring the good using its own units. The theory should consider the good it argues on to all parties involved in the action but not only the total. On the other hand Kantianism bases the action taking on the individual taking out the action which inclines the action to single party in the decision making (Cholbi).

The difference between the two theories as explained at the start is that Utilitarianism focuses on the party receiving the good act if it outweighs the action good at the moment then it is worth it while for Kantianism it considered the party taking out the action. The other difference is Utilitarianism argues on the feeling of the party receiving the benefit as terms the benefit okay if the party feels good but for Kantianism the good is not really a consideration as the action should be according to the way the giving party decides or feels like doing (Foot).

On our case of the ten bombing the train station Utilitarianism would be better theory to apply as it would save the million people at the expense of the ten. If we use Kantianism then one might feel they don’t have to do anything as it does not benefit them but the consequences of the act of the ten individual may affect them at the long run directly or indirectly. Taking action should be not solely because we feel like or we do not feel like but should rather be an obligation if the action is of help to either people even though it does not affect us if we do nothing (Kant).

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