Ethical Egoism, Utilitarianism And Kantian Ethics

1080 Words 5 Pages
Imagine your life is perfect. You are the mayor of a now prosperous town, you are a public figure everyone looks up to, you run a successful business, and you are seen as a nice, yet wealthy, man. All is right, until you find out a beggar has been sentenced to prison for life for a crime you have commit in your past. Wrongfully, he was mistaken for you and now he will suffer for it, unless you come forward. Would you turn yourself in? Jean Valjean was put in this exact position. There are three ethical perspectives in life that will be discussed, ethical egoism, utilitarianism and Kantian ethics. Depending on a person’s ethics, each type of person would react much differently than another in the same scenario given above, and this will be further …show more content…
Ethical egoism is a teleological ethic. Teleological ethics is basing your actions off of consequences, Specifically, in ethical egoism, you consider the consequences that could affect your personal well-being. This is the view that people ought to always do what is in their self-interest. People with this perspective believe we must always do what is good for our own well-being. Their belief is that we do not sacrifice for others. If Jean Valjean believed in this position, he would not care for the beggar. He would continue on with his life and only care about himself. He would not consider whether it would be best to confess or whether, in the end, a confession would benefit everyone. That said, in defending his decision, he would also be ethically satisfied to know that he was benefitting all by looking out for himself. The ethical perspective of ethical egoism focuses on the idea that if everyone is self-interested, society would be better as a whole. From this perspective, Valjean would not care so much for others, but in his views, would think this would be the best method to a better society. For example, one could argue that, through his self-interest, he has created jobs and created a prosperous town that can prosper further with him out of prison. The beggar would not be able to accomplish these tasks as he would. For all Valjean knows, the beggar could really be an evil …show more content…
Kantian ethics is a form of deontological ethics, meaning evaluating actions to see whether they are morally just or not. Kantian ethics is a type of deontological ethics because it is the view that we have absolute moral duties that are determined by reason and not affected by the consequences. Valjean, if shown from this view, would turn himself in. He would know that it would be morally wrong to lie and that lying is never justified, even if the townspeople have prospered so much under his ruling. He would know that morality must be grounded in reason and that an innocent man must not be put away for an action Valjean himself has committed. This would coincide with the categorical imperative, or another way of putting it, the “golden rule.” This is that we must treat others how we would want to be treated. If the tables were turned and the beggar was Valjean, he would want the man to come forward so he would not be sentenced to prison for life for a crime he has no recollection of ever

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