- Deontology and utilitarianism
The leading theories of modern ethics are deontology and utilitarianism.
Deontology is best represented by Immanuel Kant for whom an action is moral only if it can be willed to be a universal law for everyone and the action is done out of respect for duty regardless of the consequences and what one happens to desire.
Utilitarianism is usually associated with Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill who argue that a moral action is the action that results in the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people, everyone given equal consideration.
- Common features of deontology and utilitarianism.
Despite their differences -- deontology focuses on rules and is rooted in reason while utilitarianism focuses on results and is rooted in psychology -- They have several things in common.
- both theories express the Enlightenment quest for universal laws that govern everything and the desire to make morality secular, scientific, objective, and rational.
- They combine a variety of moral considerations into systematic frameworks centered around a major idea derived from reflection on the nature of the right or the good, ideal conditions of choice, human nature, or agency.
- for both deontologists and utilitarians, moral reasoning consists in the application of theoretically derived principles to particular cases in a deductive manner.
- Questions on the Readings
- What does "utility" mean according to Bentham?
What is Bentham's felicific calculus?
- How does the "is-ought"problem relate to Bentham's theory?
- What is Mill's justification for claiming that higher pleasures are better than lower pleasures?
- On what grounds does Mill reject Bentham's hedonistic calculus?
- What, according to Kant, is the only thing that is good in itself? Why does he think so?
- Explain the difference between acting "for the sake of duty" and acting "in accordance with duty"
- Provide two formulation of the categorical imperative.
- Explain How Kant's moral philosophy challenges the idea that morality is subjective and relative.
- What are prima facie duties? What problems do they raise?