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Argument Essay: Mill vs.


Argument Essay Genesis Jimnez Salt Lake Community College Philosophy 1100-007


Argument Essay: Mill Vs. Kant Immanuel Kant believed strictly in the idea that moral rules are absolute, and that under no circumstance should men break those rules. Any actions humans forgo have fundamental

steps in order to deem weather the action breaks or follows Universal Law and moral rules. Kant called this the Categorical Imperative test. An argument can be formed from both view points to support how Kants argument is correct or flawed. Lying is an essential act that the natural man commits. Whether defining the reason for lying is immoral or inevitably correct, ones actions cannot be measured through Universal Law. This is due to the idea that each scenario varies morally. Thus I argue that Kants argument on lying through Universal Law is flawed. The Categorical test under goes through certain requirements. A maxim can be an absolute moral statement concerning universal truth. Kant believed that a categorical imperative was an unconditional moral obligation that would be binding in all situations and would not falter on a person's circumstance or desires. The definition of categorical imperative as Kant (2002) puts it is, Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law (p. 74). He also added, which ends up being part of The Categorical Imperative Test, Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only (p. 19). Therefore in order to correctly generate a maxim, it had to be based purely off ones moral obligation to do well, rather than on ones own personal gain. Or as Once the maxim is developed the Universal Law comes into play. Universal Law states that if X maxim is: applicable to all people at all times, and not self-defeating; then the act of the maxim is acceptable. If the maxim doesnt meet those requirements the act is morally wrong.


Kants argument on lying is pillared upon the Categorical Test. Even if lying were to save someones life, spare someones feeling, or benefit mankind in some way, should that make lying acceptable? According to Kant, lying in any given circumstance is unacceptable only because then everyone would lie. If everyone started lying it would ultimately benefit no one. And then lying would no longer have a purpose. Therefore, it is better to simply let the consequences, good or bad, come as they may. As James Rachels mentions in, Kant and the Categorical Imperative (2002) Kant believed that Universal Law would not allow humans to lie because it is self-defeating. (Pg. 129) So the contradiction here lies with Kants first categorical imperative, not lying essentially keeps everyone honest but not necessarily kept from using others as a means to an end because you are not lying in order to keep yourself honest. I would like to aim my focus on the idea concerning the contradiction between rules. Whether X action is wrong versus, Y action also leads to disastrous consequences. Although Kant himself does not take the consequences of actions into consideration, I believe that judging whether an action is right or wrong is also dependant on the consequence of that action. For example, maxim: having abortions is wrong. Kant would say that aborting babies would be wrong because ultimately you would be using someone (aborting the baby) to benefit a persons life (the babys mother). Lets say Adolf Hitlers mother knew of the fore coming fatalities her son would commit. But she had the opportunity to abort her baby. A, aborting the baby is wrong but B, aborting the baby would ultimately save millions of peoples lives. According to Kant, under no circumstance could action A, become acceptable. According to John Stuart Mills (2001), Greatest Happiness Principle (p. 7), the action of B becomes most beneficial by


providing the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest amount of people. So even though Kant may be right in the fact that abortions are morally wrong, Mill proves that by not using someone as a means to an end you could ultimately cause a lot more pain and damage. Thats why Kants theory on absolute moral rules is invalid. Even if action A is universally wrong because of the consequences of action A, it would transform itself into a moral obligation. Another example where conflict between rules prevents Universal Law from being just, is cultural difference. Maxim: Sacrifice of living beings is wrong. C, the action of sacrificing is wrong but D, sacrificing is still culturally acceptable for the religion group Santeria. Here I would agree with Mill and Kant. If those who are doing the sacrificing (Santeria) and it is providing them happiness then Mill would say that there is nothing wrong with that except that

the action must provide a great amount of happiness to the greatest amount of people Santeria is only but a fraction of a percent of people who practice it. Kant of course would say that this is a means to an end and therefore wrong. I agree with Kant, not only because the Santeria doing things as a means to an end and it could not be applied universally without any exceptions and ultimately could mean the end of humanity. Although I believe they are right to deem this action is wrong, I still argue that Universal Laws couldnt be applied because of a cultural boundary that it would have to cross. Im sure Kant, having been born and raised in Santeria would have a different perspective on the notion of sacrificing. Immanuel Kants theory of Universal Law isnt a complete misuse of information. Only because he believed there was an absolute moral truth to society, rather than a circumstantial moral truth, was his theory flawed. His idea that mans actions should revolve around doing good rather than, self-beneficial and selfless reasons, is defiantly a lesson humanity, and justice


systems are in aid of today. But even with that said, there cannot be a universal set standard to

morality simply because of cultural differences, the well-being of mankind, and unknown truths.


References Rachels, James. "Kant and the Categorical Imperative." The Elements of Moral Philosopy. (McGraw Hill, 2002), p.127-134, 136-138. Kant, Immanuel. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Rethinking the Western Tradition. Allen W. Wood (trans.) 2002. p. 19 Mill, John Stuart. What Utilitarianism Is, Utilitarianism. George Sher (ed). 2nd edition. (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2001). p.35-41