Compare And Contrast Ethical Egoism And Kant's Theory Of Good Will

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According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy “The field of ethics (or moral philosophy) involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior,” (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy). We have learned throughout this class that ethics is a moral value that differs from person to person but what makes up ethics? Ethical theories are a huge part of ethics; however, many of the theories differ in more than one way. In this essay two theories will be focused on and outlined, those theories being, ethical egoism and Kant’s theory of good will. In the outline regarding these theories I will cover the strengths of both theories, what type of dilemmas the theories can cover and lastly there will be some criticism …show more content…
The theory of ethical egoism would say “The morally right act, for any particular situation, is the act that will produce the greatest amount of utility for oneself” as quoted from the book Ethical Choices (Burnor & Raley, 2013 pg.100). Ethical egoism would also make the argument that the theory is not as selfish as it may seem there is nothing that prohibits someone from helping another person out, as long as the action produces utility for the person that is completing the action (Burnor & Raley, 2013 pg.100). According to ethical egoism their theory shows a great deal of selflessness and focuses on what most people would consider morally acceptable. Ethical egoists claim that their theory is selfless because we can still help people as long as the action supports our own interest. Kant has an idea that the morally correct action is the thought of moral duty. Kant’s theory of good will could say we should not base our actions off of what produces the most utility for ourselves in fact we should not even focus on ourselves we should focus on the moral duty that we all have. We could hate doing our moral duties; however, it is our moral duty to complete these …show more content…
Kant’s good will focuses on the moral duty of a person whereas ethical egoism looks at the greatest overall utility for a person. Take into consideration a situation where you find money on the ground let’s say you found $500. What would you do? Would you keep it? Would you turn it in? Would you leave the money like you didn’t see it? You could look at ethical theories to help you decide the best action. Ethical egoism would say that we should keep the money because it creates the greatest utility for ourselves. You would benefit from the money, right? Kant’s good will theory would say that the money should be turned in because it is your moral duty to do so whether you like doing it or not. If we look at Kant’s categorical imperative principle of autonomy we see that it is our moral duty to return the money because if we do not we are acting without reason thus breaking the chain of moral law (Burnor & Raley, 2013 pg.162). We could also look at Kant’s principle of universal law and see that in this situation there would be inconsistency therefore making picking up the money morally wrong. Kant’s theory could criticize ethical egoism on many different points however the most obvious is that keeping the money would not be morally correct just solely based off the idea that is creates utility for the person that found it. Have you even thought about the person who dropped the money?

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