Comparing Kant And John Stuart Mill

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Kant is considered by many philosophers to be the father of modern ethics and morality, and one of the great philosophers of human history. His interest in ethics and morality arose after the completion of his magnum opus, the Critique of Pure Reason, which laid the foundation for his concern with practical reason. The foundations of his critical philosophy were in place with the Critique,, and his intention with focusing on ethics and morality (practical reason, or practical action) was to be able to show, using rationality and reason (logic) that human ethics and morality was based upon an uncompromising, single, supreme principle of morality, a principle that has rational authority, leading rather than following the passions, and binding …show more content…

His morality is based wholly on the concept of “good will.” To have a good will is to act on moral principles that are wholly justifiable by what he called ‘practical reason,’ the result of which is duty. Kant believed will to be crucial for two reason which will be expanded and discussed in fuller detail later in the paper, especially in contrast to the utilitarian morality set for by John Stuart Mill. First, Kant refused to accept the view that are actions are just another set of events in the physical universe, determined by factors beyond our control. We are responsible for what we do, Kant argued; otherwise, they very notion of morality doesn’t make sense (logically), nor does the concept of human dignity, which Kant found all-important. Second, Kant was aware that it makes no sense to blame people for what is beyond their control; the consequences of what we do are often beyond our control, subject to accidents or interruptions that we could not possibly have predicted using logic or science. Kant said, “the only thing that is good without qualification is a good will”—in other words, our good intentions and attempts to do …show more content…

It is the authority of the principle itself—or the authority by which it is given to us—that is the sole reason needed to obey it. In addition, of course, obeying the principle might in fact be good for us; indeed, it might even be the pre-condition needed for the stability of our society. But duty-defined morality (of which Kant’s is the prime example of, along with Judeo-Christian theology) insists that it is the status of the principle itself, whatever the consequences and whatever the personal reasons we might find in addition for obeying it, that is its justification for us. Kant’s theories of moralities of principles are ones that make the authority internal to us. Accordingly, these theories and rules are not imposed upon us by God or by society but are rather found within us, as conscience for example or the voice of reason. Kant insisted that morality, whatever else it may be, is first of all a matter of rationality and reason, and that the source and justification of moral principles—however we might learn them as children—are ultimately within ourselves. This personal autonomy, which he defined as the capability of figuring out on our own what is right and what is wrong through the use of reason, is essential for

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