Groundwork Of The Metaphysics Of Morals By Kant And John Stuart Mill

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What is it that makes a good deed inherently good? Some may say that the goodness of an action is characterized solely by ones motivation to do good, while other’s believe that the end result is all that matters. As human beings we are free to choose our path in life, as well as our beliefs and our actions. This allows us to decide whether we want to act in a way that will cause harm or good. Since we have the free will to decide our course of action to get the results we want, it also comes with the responsibility to choose whether we wish to act ethically. We all would like the outcome of our actions to be exactly as we envisioned but how we get there is extremely important. We can act in a way that is just even if we do not get exactly what …show more content…
In accordance with Immanuel Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, I will argue that ethical actions should be judged by good will alone. By comparing the theories of Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill, I will conclude that Kant’s theories are more realistic in regards to the nature of humans.

Immanuel Kant argues that one’s good intentions should be the deciding factor in judging their actions no matter the outcome. What is beneficial about this is that it allows for the expression of the intrinsic values of a person. Since every person has different virtues and opinions, they can act in any way they choose. We are free to act in way’s that are moral or immoral because according to this theory, our intentions are more meaningful than the outcome. Kant explains that, “A good will is not good because of what it effects or accomplishes-because of its fitness for attaining some proposed end: it is good through its willing along- that is good in itself (pg. 110).” If we make the conscience effort to do good, we are inherently good. If our objectives are to cause harm, we are inherently bad. If we intend to do good but the outcome does not work in our favour, we are still seen as good since
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This is based on the Utilitarian principle that one should act towards the greatest good for the greatest number of people. This promotes happiness and pleasure while condemning anything that causes pain. Mill believes that the purpose for any person’s actions is to experience pleasure or to avoid pain. Though this ultimate telos for happiness may seem like a good system, there are flaws that do not coincide with human nature. One issue with this theory is that it does not take into consideration that different people have different preferences and ideas of what is pleasurable. He introduces the distinction between higher and lower quality pleasures. High quality pleasures are considered to be more intellectual such as reading a book or attending the opera. Low quality pleasures are simpler as they include vices such as chocolate, sex and, drugs. Mill assumes that since we are intelligent beings we will always choose high quality pleasures over lower ones. In order to determine what falls under higher or lower quality pleasures, he introduces the ‘competent judge’ test. This proposes that the only one’s who can determine the significance of a certain pleasure must be one who has experienced both the high and low pleasures of life. The issue with this is that Mill seems to believe that those who prefer the more physical, lower quality pleasures

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