Essay on Kantian Theory vs Golden Rule

620 Words May 2nd, 2007 3 Pages
For one to judge which theory is a stronger guide for moral actions, one must first understand the theories and compare their strengths and weaknesses.
The Kantian theory is one which emphasizes on suppressing personal inclinations and performing one's duty unless one is either not a free agent or has no duty, even proposing several formulations to determine one's duty, allowing it to solve problems other theories face. Unlike other moral guides, it takes motives into account when judging one's morality. The Golden Rule, also known as the ethic of reciprocity, is a general principle of ethics which requires one to treat others as they themselves would want to be treated when in the same situation. As both of the theories are
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Another example would be the Masochist inflicting pain on others. In this case, Golden Rule would say that it is right for him to inflict pain on others as he is treating others like how he would want to be treated himself. This is a weakness for the Golden Rule as it fails to consider the fact that different people have different desires. Kantian theory addresses this problem, forbidding the Masochist from doing so as it cannot be universalized, so this is a strength of Kantian theory.
Lastly in the case of a judge sentencing a murderer, Golden Rule would require the judge to free the convict as he would not want to be hanged. Kantian theory would require the judge to sentence the murderer as he has a duty to protect the people. As can be seen, the Golden Rule does not consider that we may be forced to impose actions on people contrary to their wishes and hence it has a weakness Kantian theory accounts for.
Kantian theory is not perfect, however, and it also shares common weaknesses with Golden Rule, as one may still end up in a moral dilemma when there are conflicting wants or duties like the "Bomb Dilemma".
In conclusion, I believe that Kantian theory is a stronger guide for moral actions compared to the Golden Rule as it can overcome many of the weaknesses the Golden Rule has. It also covers more situations, making it a more comprehensive

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