Essay about The Two Shopkeepers- Kantian Ethics and Consequentialism

1081 Words Nov 17th, 2011 5 Pages
Liza G

Prof. Williams


21 November 2011

The Two Shopkeepers

One of the several topics covered in Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals is the issued of two shopkeepers. One shopkeeper is honest with his customers in order to maintain a positive reputation and improve profits. The second one is honest because he thinks it is right and exercises his respect for the moral law. The first shopkeeper is motivated to be honest by the rewards of a positive reputation and profit. The second is motivated by respect for morally right action. Taking these motivations into consideration from the standpoint of Kantian ethics, it is clear which shopkeeper is acting right. Kant believes that actions that are
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Consequentialism is a normative ethical theory where actions are right or wrong based on the consequences that result from action. This contradicts Kant’s notion of evaluating the moral intentions of the action, regardless of the consequence it produces. This theory often adopts ideas seen within utilitarianism, where an action is good or right considering how many people it benefits. For example, a consequentalist may say murder of one person to save one hundred people is right simply because of its consequence. But a non-consequentialist, or deontologist, such as Kant would conclude that killing someone is always morally wrong regardless of the consequence. Applying the consequentialist theory to the shopkeepers’ actions, one can conclude that neither of the shopkeepers is acting in accordance with the ideas of consequentialism. Evaluation of their actions through the mind of a consequentialist will explain this conclusion. Considering the utilitarianist approach within the theory of consequetialism, neither of the shopkeepers is acting rightly. This is because a utilitarianist judges a situation based on how many people it will produce the best consequences for. Since the first shopkeeper is simply benefitting himself, he is not acting in accordance with this process of judgment, but rather benefiting his own ego. And the second shopkeeper is also not acting in accordance with this process because, if anything, he is only

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