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Ethics From Immanuel Kant And John Stuart Mill

Immanuel Kant (22 Apr 1724 - 12 February 1804) was an 18th-century German philosopher from the Prussian city of Königsberg. Kant was the last important philosopher of modern European countries in the typical sequence of the idea of knowledge during the Enlightenment you start with thinkers John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume. [1] A philosopher who resided a life of stringent discipline & regime. He took a separate interest in North american and French revolution.

Kant has various writings to his credit which include:

General Natural Background and Theory of the Heavens (1755): where he writes about the solar system

Critique of Pure Reason (1781): is approximately his philosophical work in natural sciences & mathematics.

Critique of Judgement (1790): wherein he analyzes looks & biology.

The Fundamental Ideas of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785): endeavours to show the foundations of genuine morality.

The Critique of Functional Reason (1788): investigates implications of immorality for religious beliefs.

Kant's main concern is dynamics & morality (starry heavens above and moral regulation within). He says that genuine morality i. e. , a morality which is objectively and universally binding requires an a priori base. He contributes that the widespread basis of morality in man must rest in his rational aspect, since this alone is the same in everyone. Thus a moral basic principle must be in a way that a man can 'will' that all men including him should take action upon it.

Kant uses the test of uniformity as the central of fundamental moral laws which he phone calls - categorical essential: those activities are right which comply with principles you can consistently will to be rules for many men, and the ones actions are wrong which are based upon maxims that a rational creature could not will that all men should follow.

Through the categorical imperative we can identify between right & incorrect actions. Kant stresses that it is not only the test but additionally it is the unconditional directive for patterns. It really is binding upon everyone because each rational man acknowledges his responsibility to check out reason. Thus categorical imperative is the one basis for deciding our responsibilities. He strains that reason prescribes responsibility, and the moral legislation holds if men actually follow it.

In order with an in-depth understanding of Kant's philosophy we have to observe how he developed his argument. Initially Kant bears out a critical analysis of the commonly accepted 'good' things such as health, prosperity and friendship. He offers that the mentioned things aren't good under all circumstances, but only in so far as they are conjoined with something that is unqualified good - a good will. GOOD WILL presents the effort of a rational being to do what he ought to do, somewhat than to do something from inclination or self applied -interest. Thus a good will seems to constitute the vital condition even to be worthy of delight. Kant elaborates that good will is bad because is achieves good results. Even if it does not attain the ends it seeks, it might be good in itself and have a higher worthy of than the superficial things gained by immoral actions. Kant mentions that reason is a very inefficient instrument for the success of pleasure. He concludes that reason is not designed to produce delight, but to make a good will.

Kant further clarifies the relation between good will & obligation highlighting that a good will is one that acts for the sake of duty. Indeed, individual activities have moral worthy of only if they are really performed from duty. He further says that even action relative to duty is not enough; only admiration for work, makes an action moral. Kant further differentiates praiseworthy habit from moral action, he says that altruistic or selfless actions that derive from feelings of sociability deserve compliment and encouragement however they cannot be classified as possessing moral value. Moral worthy of of identity which is highest of most is not presented from inclination but from duty.

Kant then sets forward his first honest proposition wherein he expresses that "an work must be achieved from duty to be able to own moral worth". Taking this forward the second moral proposition says that "an function from obligation derives its moral value not from the results it produces but from the rule by which it is determined". Taking the first two propositions Kant identifies responsibility as "the morally right action is one done only out of reverence for the law and its unique and unconditioned value comes from this source". Third proposition which is a outcome of the first two expresses "duty is the necessity of performing from respect for the law". For Kant the supreme rule or laws of morality which the good man must follow is the Categorical Imperative. Rational beings as very good they act rationally will always be guided by honest principles or maxims which may be adopted by everybody else without producing any contradiction.

Kant further distinguishes between categorical imperative and hypothetical essential. Kant says that categorical essential can be an unconditional directive that prescribes actions to be achieved because of the moral worth of the maxim rather than for the sake of some consequence which could result. Alternatively hypothetical imperative is a conditional directive which advises what should be done when a desired goal is to be achieved for example, "One must tell the truth as a way of principle" is a categorical essential, whereas "if you want to avoid abuse, you must tell the truth" is a hypothetical imperative".

Kant's first explicit formulation of categorical imperative requires an individual to follow a maxim which can, without contradiction, be willed to be a rule for everybody. This means that the substance of morality lies in acting on the basis of any impersonal process which is valid for everybody, including oneself. Kant conceives the categorical imperative to be considered a two-fold test. It needs first, that maxims for moral action be universalized without rational contradiction and second, that they be common directives for action which do not bring the will into disharmony with itself by requiring it to will a very important factor for itself and another thing for others. In one of Kant's formulation of categorical critical he speaks of interpersonal implications, he stresses that it needs us to treat every human being as an end in himself rather than as only a means to an end. In brief, we have to respect all humans impartially and avoid exploiting anyone. Ends that are ends only because they're desired give us hypothetical imperatives; but when there is an end in itself, the vital to seek it is independent of desire and is also therefore a categorical essential. Kant shows the basic identity of the first and second formulations of the categorical imperative. Those activities which, on the first formulation, cannot be universalized without contradiction, example committing suicide or refusing to help the needy, will be seen on the next formulation to be inconsistent with the thought of humanity as an end alone.

Having taken to light with rational rigor the implicit pre-suppositions of the normal man's awareness of duty and shown it to be a universal categorical essential, Kant gives eloquent reward to "pure moral school of thought" and a expression of caution to the people moralists who allow reason to be corrupted by empirical considerations.


[1] Crane Brinton. "Enlightenment", Encyclopedia of Beliefs. Vol. 2, p. 519. Macmillan, 1967.

[2] www. wikipedia. com

[3] E. Albert, T. Denise, S. Peterfreund - Great Practices in Ethics, 4th Edition, 1980.

2. John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill was the intellectual heir of the utilitarian movements in Britain. Mill dedicated himself to clarifying the teachings of his dad, James Mill, and those of Jeremy Bentham, who championed the utilitarian doctrine. John Mill was nurtured and mentored to be an original thinker.

Mill's major works include:

System of Reasoning (1843): which is his philosophical contribution wherein he defends the inductive method of logic, demonstrating that general regulations or universal concepts must be produced from empirical facts.

Principles of Political Overall economy (1848): wherein he relates the use of Utilitarian rules to Economics.

Essays on Liberty (1859) and Considerations on Representative Federal government (1861): are classical statements of his sociable and political beliefs.

Essay Utilitarianism (1861): is his only explicit contribution to ethics.

Autobiography and Three Essays on Religion: both which works were published after his loss of life.

John Stuart Mill didn't attempt to originate an moral theory, but instead to guard the ethical theory to which he was born. He altered and proceeded to go beyond the utilitarian doctrine as it was propounded by his father and Jeremy Bentham. Bentham centered his utilitarian philosophy on the rule that the "thing of morality is the campaign of the greatest happiness of the utmost number of customers in the world". He proceeded on the idea that the happiness of anybody consists in a good balance of pleasures over pains. Consequently, those actions which tend to increase pleasure are called "good" and the ones actions which have a tendency to increase pain are called 'bad'. For Bentham "The general public good ought to be the subject matter of the legislator: Basic utility should be the basis of his reasoning's. To know the real good of the city is exactly what constitutes the science of legislation; the artwork consists in finding the means to realize that good. To apply this social and politics ideal, he created a "hedonistic calculus" through which pleasures and pains could be assessed. In this way, good and bad acts and, as a result, good and bad legislation, can be examined in conditions of such factors as intensity, duration, degree, certainty, propinquity, fecundity & purity. 2

Mill restates the Bentham doctrine. In his restatement, he will go beyond Bentham's contention that the essential variations among pleasures and aches and pains are quantitative, preserving they are also subject to significant qualitative differentiation.

Mill allows in basic principle Bentham's doctrine regarding the basic role of pleasure and pain in morality viz.

Individual psychological hedonism: corresponding to which the sole motive of an action can be an individual's desire to have happiness that is ideal for an equilibrium of pleasure over pain. This is mainly a descriptive doctrine since it offers a merchant account of the real motive of the behavior.

Universal honest hedonism: regarding to that your "greatest pleasure of the greatest number" should be the individual's goal and standard of do. This is a normative theory in that it stipulates what ought to be done. In it is a principle where actions are assessed in terms of their consequences irrespective of the nature of the purpose.

However there are gaps between Individual subconscious hedonism and General ethical hedonism:

If every individual is motivated solely by the desire of his own contentment, there is absolutely no reason to expect that his actions will at the same time always promote the interests of the society

The descriptive reality men do desire their own pleasure, does not imply the normative rule that men ought to act in accordance with this desire.

In order to fill the spaces and harmonize individual internal hedonism and common moral hedonism Mill can take recourse to the concept of Sanctions - the inducement to action which gives binding drive to moral guidelines.

In Mill's system of ethics, sanctions are rooted in the hedonistic motive, i. e. , moral rules are acknowledged and obeyed by virtue of expected pleasures or aches You will discover both "external" and "internal" sanctions. Exterior sanctions are causes of reward and consequence in the world about us which control men's actions through their concern with pain and propensity for pleasure. But Mill cautions that existence of such exterior sanctions is not to be taken as true sense of moral responsibility. Thus ultimate moral sanction must result from within. The push of an interior action derives from the feeling of pleasure which is experienced whenever a moral laws is obeyed and the sensation of pain which accompanies a violation of it. Thus the best happiness basic principle can be sanctioned from within. Furthermore by means of this doctrine of inside sanctions, Mill is enabled to reconcile the mental health theory that everyone desires his own enjoyment with the moral theory that you ought to act as to serve public good.

Looking at Mill's work at length we see that Mill defends the utilitarian doctrine by identifying misrepresentations and clarification of the theory. He opposes those who fail to associate energy with pleasure and pain. Mill then claims concisely the doctrine of electricity. He says that Greatest Delight Principle, contains that actions are right in proportion as they have a tendency to promote enjoyment (pleasure and lack of pain), incorrect as they tend to produce the change of enjoyment or unhappiness (pain and deprivation of pleasure). He further expresses that pleasures range in kind and degree and some sorts of pleasure tend to be desired & more valuable than others. Thus amount & quality both need to be considered when estimating pleasure. Mill relates that superiority of 1 kind of pleasure over another is determined by those people who have experienced both sorts. Further says that among those who have experienced both prefer the pleasure of higher faculties. Mill further discounts the judgment of those who get away from higher pleasures for lower ones by explaining they are incapable either inherently or by insufficient opportunity of enjoying the bigger kind. Really the only judges are those people who have tested the spectrum of pleasures (lower & higher pleasures). Mill relates the best happiness principle to add the difference between the quantitative and qualitative areas of pleasure. Mill sets forward the practical description of delight and a suggestion for the interpersonal means of obtaining it. That is a clarification to the objections to the utilitarian doctrine.

Another objection Mill savings is the declare that Utilitarian morality is incompatible with serves of personal sacrifice that are so sacred in Christian culture. Thus he concludes that all individual's happiness is add up to that of another. The greatest happiness basic principle is not essential as a purpose for conduct but is vital as the guideline by which carry out is judged and sanctioned. Herein moral analysis is directed to actions and to the manner in which they affect the general happiness. Having removed the major myths about the rule of utility Mill proposes to investigate its ultimate sanction. Mill areas that it's our sense for humanity which gives the best sanction of the rule of utility which Mill calls the inner sanction. Whether or not this inner feeling or inside sanction for mankind is inborn or received, Mill argues that it's rather a powerful power and a sensible basis for utilitarian morality.

Mill's moving explanation of the foundation and aspect of the feeling for mankind may serve as a appropriate finish to his exposition of the greatest happiness basic principle.


[1] E. Albert, T. Denise, S. Peterfreund - Great Practices in Ethics, 4th Model 1980.

[2] www. wikipedia. com

(3) Virtue Ethics

Virtue ethics highlights or stresses on the basic virtues of moral identity the main notion being of 'virtue', functional intelligence and eudaimonia. The founders of virtue ethics are Plato and Aristotle, though root base can be followed back to Greek Idea and the Chinese language dominant procedure1.

Virtue ethics identifies a assortment of normative ethical viewpoint that place an emphasis on 'being' alternatively that 'doing'. In other words in virtue ethics morality stems from the personal information or character of the individual rather than being truly a reflection of the activities (or outcomes thereof) of the individual. There are various debates on virtue ethics however the link that connects all is that "Morality comes consequently of intrinsic virtues"2


Plato used the Socratic dictum "Virtue is Knowledge". Plato's thesis was that "life of reason is the happiest & best. Which means that knowledge produces a harmonious man in the sense that whenever reason governs wishes & passions, a sensible planned personality results. Such a person is "a logical man" who's the 'virtuous man' and the "happy man". For Plato a morally virtuous man is one who is in Rational, Emotional and Biological balance. In Platonic conditions a virtuous man is person who is wise, temperate, courageous and. Within a virtuous man wishes or passions function harmoniously under the governance of reason.

Such a man places his own inner life & is his own master and reaches peace with himself. Plato's answer to exactly what is a 'Good Life' is a life of reasoning is the better life. He has written in the Republic "It is best to be unborn than untaught: for ignorance is the root of misfortune. "3

For Plato:

A man of knowledge is the virtuous man

Life of reason(knowledge ) is best life

Ultimate knowledge which moral virtue is situated is the knowledge of the Good.

By achievements of justice, temperance and knowledge the whole soul becomes perfect and noble


Aristotle's theory is the fact everyone wants to live on 'the good life', the happy life. The term used for joy is Eudaimonia. By delight Aristotle appears to mean 'well being' the fulfillment of our own distinctive functions. Aristotle says that Eudaimonia is the best good since it is sought because of its own sake and little or nothing else that is justice is wanted because it leads to good life. Matching to Aristotle the ultimate way to achieve delight (Eudaimonia) was to inculcate and display those characteristics that are most beneficial to reside in a contemporary society. He says that extremes of figure aren't good. For Aristotle Virtue lies in the "Golden Mean" this is the right balance between your two extremes. He has called each of the extremes 'Vice' and the mean 'Virtue'4.

Exceptions to the Rule:

Not everything has a means

No means for murder or theft

Thus following Aristotle's thought every person should develop his own character by inculcating habit of virtue. Thereafter good activities will become a habit e. g. a good person will take good decisions. This goodness shall then ripple to the population & coming decades of their elders since virtue is trained by example alternatively than group of rules. The virtues identified by Aristotle are of 2 types:

Moral Virtues:

The habitual choice of actions in accordance with rational concepts.

Intellectual Virtues:

The contemplation of theoretical truths and the discovery of rational concepts which must control everyday activities.

The first group of virtues is developed by habits the next by training and education. Matching to Aristotle we are not born with virtues that are we could inherently good or bad, we learn by inculcating practices & having role types of virtuous people. 4

Thus corresponding to Aristotle

A life of reason is the better and most pleasurable which life is also the happiest one.

Happiness thus depends on actualization of your respective rationality.

A virtuous man lives matching to reason thus knowing his different potentiality.

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