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Ilustrations of Utilitarianism

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It is extremely difficult to determine which ethical or moral principle is nearly correct. This is because most of the ethical principles such as Utilitarianism, Kantian principle, the “rights” theory, social theory have different perspectives of right and wrong, or of morality and ethics. All of these theories are towards achieving what is due and despising what is not. The difference lies in the perspectives of the proponents, as well as the means and justification for each. Between Utiliarianism and the Kantian principle, I would consider the Kantian principle as the most nearly correct.

How? The ultimate moral principle in Utilitarian is to generate the greatest happiness for the greatest number of subjects. In an array of options for decision-making and action, the right option is the one that produces the greatest net happiness. The Utilitarians think about choices and actions in terms of interests or desires and their satisfaction or frustration. For example, the early British Utilitarians declared that right choices are those which will probably maximize self-interest-satisfactions (utility) or produce the greatest happiness of the greatest number (Leys 4).

There are two types of utilitarianism: rule and act. Rule utilitarianism pertains to the identification of a set of moral rules that satisfies the principle of utility better than any alternative set of moral rules. Particular actions are judged right or wrong according to whether they conform to the chosen set of rules. On the other hand, Act Utilitarianism, requires a utilitarian calculation to be undertaken for each possible action in order to identify what is ethically required. The Kantian principle, proposed by Immanuel Kant, is a contrast to utilitarianism.

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In the Kantian principle, moral principles are determined through rationalization, or reasoning. The consequences of the actions are not a determining factor of the morality or ethics. The Kantian principle values “goodwill” or self-sense of duty in an action as the moral factor. Kant’s moral and ethics theory is the categorical imperative. In answer to the question “What makes an action right? ” the categorical imperative states that an action is morally right only if the maxim (or principle) represented by the action can be accepted as a universal law (Johnson 2008).

The categorical imperative can be understood in two ways. First, is through the “golden rule” wherein an action is right only if the subject would be willing to be treated in this way in case of reversal. The second perspective of the Kantian principle is that of respect for persons, where people should always be treated as ends and not merely as means to others’ ends. The requirement to act from a sense of duty and the understanding of the categorical imperative can be used as tests to evaluate actions (Fisher 140-141).

Hence, with the aforementioned illustrations of Utilitarianism and the Kantian principle, I would consider the Kantian principle as the more correct ethical theory as it is founded on rationalization, in contrast to the Utilitarianism where the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people is the key to being morally or ethically upright. Q:What, in your view, is the most serious (set of) problem's) this theory encounters? Explain carefully and in detail you could talk about social welfare and that not every body should do what e wish without caring about the society. Also read

utilitarianism and business ethics essay

One of the primary dilemmas of the Kantian philosophy is that it seems to deny the right and wrong way, which is the central claim of the teleological moral view. For instance, act consequentialism, one type of teleological theory, asserts that the right action is one which has the best overall outcome from among the alternatives available to the person. There is also the “virtue ethics” which focuses on the character traits. The Kantian theory is deemed as deontological because it seems to deny and reverse the priorities on the teleological theories of virtues and act consequentialism.

(Johnson 2008). A teleological argument is one that pertains to the existence of God or a creator based on perceived evidence of order, purpose, design, or direction — or some combination of these — in nature. The word "teleological" is derived from the Greek word telos, meaning "end" or "purpose". Teleology is the supposition that there is purpose or directive principle in the works and processes of nature. Immanuel Kant called this argument the Physico–theological proof (Wikipedia 2010).

In the context of social welfare, I believe the most serious issue that the Kantian theory may pose is that an individual or a party adhering to his own reasoning may encounter conflicts with others in the society or environment. If a Kantian would base his morals and ethics on his own reasoning and then, believe that such is universally or morally acceptable, then conflicts with others in his environment may arise. All individuals are different, in terms of beliefs, principles, ethical and moral grounds.

These differences are compounded by cultural, educational, and many other factors. Hence, different individuals have varying levels and rationales regarding moral and ethical standards. It is thus possible that an individual would think that he is morally and ethically upright, but for others around him, this may not be the case because the others may have developed different sets of moral and ethical standards. For example, a corporate executive may consider it reasonable to advertise or promote his tobacco products to the target market.

In his reasoning or rationale, this action may be morally or ethically correct because the act of advertising is within the bounds of commerce or business. However, if one would think about the society’s welfare, he would think about the consequence of tobacco smoking to other people, to those who smoke and those who are inhaling it involuntarily. Q: How might this theory be revised to avoid this problem? Explain carefully and in detail. - give a very good answer and consider some up to date example To avoid the emergence of conflicts or issues in adhering to the Kantian Theory, some adjustments can be applied.

For example, since the Kantian Theory pertains to one’s beliefs in his own reasoning as the ground for ethical or moral righteousness, some traits of Utilitarianism can be adopted with this theory. The sense of righteousness can include concern for the benefit and welfare of the majority of the society, as well. In the example of advertising for tobacco, a corporate executive can apply various alternatives to proceed with such an activity. However, the impact on the society can be mitigated. A warning message can be included in the advertising campaign that should inform or remind smokers that “smoking can be dangerous to one’s health”.

Graphic or message warnings can be used to reinforce this. Another alternative can be for manufacturers of tobacco to minimize the health hazards of tobacco or cigarette by researching possible ways of reengineering the components of cigarette and tobacco. Some hazardous substances can be replaced by less hazardous elements which would give the same sense of satisfaction to tobacco or cigarette smokers. This way, both the manufacturer and the consumers will not be adversely affected in the efforts to be ethical in the perspective of Kantian principle.

The concepts and principles of utilitarianism could also be applied. Anyhow, the traditional perspective that most philosophers and scholars think of Kantian Ethics has evolved with time. Some scholars view the Kantian Ethical principle in accordance to the Horizontal and vertical perspectives of human dignity. In the vertical perspective of Kantian Ethics, the ethical and moral values are grounded on one’s own rationalizations or reasoning. On the other hand, the horizontal perspective of Kantian Ethics deals with the social aspect of Kantian principles (Garcia 132).

This dimension of the ethical principle implies that although an individual can rely on his reasoning to determine right versus wrong, this can be on universal basis, hence, there is the possibility that the general welfare of the society is being taken into account. Scholars recognize the fact that it is not possible to desire only for individual interests, mainly because each individual can be very vulnerable. Hence, one has to co-exist with others in his environment. For example, he can be exposed or subjected to the heteronomous influence of immoral persons.

In these situations, an individual can be an instrument of evil himself. Henceforth, then Kantian principle morality can be more deeply realized through its integration into the social environment. This can be possible by adhering to an individual’s percepts of right and wrong based on his reasoning, at the same time, eliminating the negative influences in his environment. To top it all, an individual can move on higher by aiming for the achievement of the highest level of goodness not only for him, but also in consideration of the greater majority in the society where he belongs.

Moral and Ethical principles are of varying perspectives and levels insofar as the as the society and the individual is concerned. Each ethical principle has its own negative and positive traits. In the face of diversities in culture and humanity, combining and adapting the best features of these principles would surely benefit the humanity. Works Cited Fisher, Josie. “Ethics and Bait-and-Switch Practices. ” Encyclopedia of Business Ethics and Society. Ed. Robert Kolb. United States of America: Sage Publications, Inc. 2008. pp. 140-141.

Garcia, Ernesto. “The Social Nature of Kantian Dignity. ” Social Philosophy Today. 16 (2000). Pp. 127-141. Johnson, Robert. “Kant’s Moral Philosophy. ” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. April 6, 2008. Stanford. (20 July 2010). http://www. plato. standford. edu/entries/kant-moral. Leys, Wayne. “Ethics, Social Science, and Conflict of Interest. ” The American Behavioral Scientist. ProQuest Information and Learning Company. (2002): 3-7. Wikipedia . Teleological Argument. [online] ; http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Teleological_argument; [17 July 2010]

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