Being assigned to compare and contrast Kant’s duty ethics with Utilitarianism, it should be emphasized that these theories are two of five known studies about ethics approach. In this paper, the issues towards pros and cons of both theories will not be addressed as they stand beyond the borders of given assignment.
To begin with, let’s mention definitions of Kant’s duty and Utilitarianism studies. The first oneis based on the value of right motive and right act (deontology). In its turn, the utilitarianism states that proper course of action among all existing is the one that maximizes the overall “good” of the greatest number of individuals. These definitions do not allow to get the entire meanings of both philosophy, thereby, some deeper look is required to draw the lines. Going to compare and contrast Kant’s duty and Utilitarianism ethics,it should be stressed that they are extremely contrary to each other. Thus, probably the only similarity between them can be found in equal subjects of research. On the other hand, the differences deserve much more attention to understand their meanings.
“Absolutes” vs “Particulars”
The stand point of Kant’s ethics is the “Good will”. In few words, it can be determined as the common, supreme, absolute, only value and the only right motive of conscious act. It has no wanted outcome, it is just the obligation of each human being.The good will is showed by the intention to act in right way, to do own duty in the name of everyone: “So act as to treat humanity, whether in thine own person or in that of any other, in every case as an end withal, never as a means only.” On the other hand, utilitarianism allows acting variations, special approach to every special case, based on individual calculations or evaluations what of acts will bring the most benefit to the largest quantity of people:“Actions are right to the degree that they tend to promote the greatest good for the greatest number”.
“Act” vs “Consequence”
Talking about this part, we have to pay some attention to core values of two analyzed ethics approaches. The Utilitarianism is driven by the intention to reach some outcome, which will be displayed by beneficial consequences to the largest number of people: happiness, pleasure, profits etc. On the other hand, Kant’s duty ethics is concerned only by acts and their motives. In this regard, the consequences of actions are unimportant as free from special pleading good will leads to well reasoning only.
“Duty” vs “Interest”
This controversy of two ethics approaches is derivative from previous thoughts, however, it is still worth to be pointed out. As it was already said, the utilitarianism states that the center of every action is evaluation of its consequences. In other words, the outcome-interest ratio is the most important. In its turn, Kant’s ethics denies the value of interests at all, calling them “inferior motives”. This idea can be interpretedas an objection to unclear values systems, considering that people are different to each other. The “good will” in Kant’s ethics is not the interest of anyone. It is the duty of consciousness living that is an inherent feature of every human being.
To sum up, brief compare-contrast analysis was useful to get the meanings of two popular philosophic schools. This paper has no value to say which of them is more rational and right one eventually. Probably, this question hardly will be answered ever, considering that it totally lies in ethics domain.