John Stuart Mill Moral Action Theory

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What constitutes a moral action? How do we as people decide what the most morally correct options are? Depending on perspective and cultural differences basic moral values are subject to change, but that isn’t the only thing affecting how we evaluate morality. As can be illustrated by the theories of ethicists Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill, sometimes our ideas of what makes something moral are more important than the action itself. Kant was a German philosopher who was born during the 1700s that had a big impact on the Enlightenment. In his earlier years Kant was enthralled with mathematics and science, particularly the works of Isaac Newton. That interest remained present throughout his adult life and influenced his philosophical hypotheses …show more content…
People intrinsically feel as though they must repay those around them for helping them find their freedom and autonomy. Kant theorizes that out of good will toward others, people uphold their moral duty and do not take emotional factors such as pride and satisfaction into account. This leads into the main point of Kant’s perspective, that the action itself determines morality rather than the outcome that is achieved. By being faithful to their duty to their communities people retain their autonomy and act on their freedom, which reinforces Kant’s definition of humanity. The individual is being moral for the good of everyone involved, including themselves. Kant believes that humans are not pure rational beings but that since morality is derived from duties, what is moral can be considered rational but not always nice. Emotions are not consistent, and because of this Kant believes that the morality of an action cannot depend on chance as it would if feelings were a key factor. For example, a person who has road rage is much more likely to make spiteful decisions than that same person when they have an uneventful commute home. Using rationality as a method of measurement and knowing for sure whether a decision is moral does eliminate the probabilities that those with proper intentions could be considered immoral. I think that from Kant’s perspective immoral …show more content…
Mill believes that the reason for human life is to pursue happiness; he claims that if all humans live for is the pursuit of happiness, it makes sense to only pay attention to the outcomes since they are what constitutes how much pleasure or pain the people involved receive, and therefore their level of happiness. Since happiness is an essential aspect of life, he sees it as a way to gauge what is moral by what brings the greatest amount of happiness altogether, not to an individual. By this reasoning extreme self-sacrifice is not truly for the greater good unless it somehow increases the sum of total happiness; otherwise it is useless. One way sacrifice could be invalidated is that the happiness levels of all people who had a connection to the martyr would dramatically drop from their feelings of loss. Since happiness is often derived from social interactions of some kind, Mill holds that social feelings are naturally present in people. However, he feels that a true quality social state must be learned and practiced until it is second nature. Mill came up with the concept that institutions teach people how to acquire and cultivate their societal talents, most importantly learning how to take others’ feelings into account. This is a key part of the Mill perspective; Mill values equality and thinks that all people should be consulted. I do believe that recognizing various perspectives will help

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