System of moral rules
Ethics is a system of moral rules and is the study of moral principles. Ethics can be divided into two categories: classical and modern. Classical ethics comes from Plato and Aristotle being concerned about questions regarding our personal self-growth and development. Modern ethics was founded after the Italian Renaissance and studies morality. Since ethics is the study of morality, this proposes that morality and ethics are two different ideas. “Morality is a set of fundamental rules that guide our actions; for example, they may forbid us to kill each other, encourage us to help each other, tell us not to lie, and command us to keep our promises” (Solomon et al., 2016, p.497). Morality is a set of rules for right actions and the exclusion of wrong actions. In deontological ethics, you evaluate the moral rightness of an action no matter the consequence. In the deontology of Kant, the central point of his argument is the notion of goodwill, which is intrinsically good. For something to have intrinsic good, it has to meet three different criteria’s: final, self-sufficient, and objective. For something to have intrinsic value, it has to meet the first criteria of final. When something is final it is something that is sought after only for itself. Secondly, for something to be intrinsically good it has to be the second criteria of self-sufficient. When something meets the self-sufficient criteria, it only depends on itself for its own value. Lastly, for something to have intrinsic value it has to meet the objective category. If something is objective, this means that from every view or scenario, the value remains unaffected. Morality is more than just rules that help people get along; therefore, Kant wants to know when an action is considered really moral (embodies goodwill). This leads to the question: How do we know if we are really being moral? The answer lies with or motivations. The biggest part of the deontological system of Kant is the maxims. A maxim is a thought you feel bound to fulfill. “With moral and categorical imperative, there are universal laws that tell us what to do in every circumstance” (Solomon et al., 2016, p.549). Kant believes you should act so the maxim of your action can be willed a universal law. Therefore, if my action and the maxim behind it are willed as a universal law, it is logically consistent and there are no contradictions. Utilitarianism is the belief that says we should act in such a way that makes the greatest number of people happy. The main goal of Utilitarianism is to secure the most pleasure and void the most pain for the greatest number of people. “Utilitarian’s wanted to reconsider the consequences as well as the intentions of an action and to consider the particular circumstance in an attempt to determine what is morally right” (Solomon et al., 2016, p.556). One of the main beliefs in Utilitarianism is the belief that an action is morally right if it promotes the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people. This is the belief that actions should promote pleasure for people in society, including me. Utilitarianism also says that no moral action is right or wrong that what matters is the pleasure or happiness, or satisfaction of that is produced from that action. Kind of like Kant’s three-step criteria, Utilitarianism has its own criteria: Utilitarian Calculus. “The procedure simply involves the determination of alternative amounts of pleasures and pain” (Solomon et al., 2016, p.558). Utilitarian Calculus is made up of four stages: intensity, propinquity/remoteness, fecundity, and purity. According to Egalitarian ethic, pleasure is a pleasure and all pleasures are equal. One of the main problems with Utilitarianism is pleasure versus pain. “Suppose a great many people would get a great deal of pleasure out of seeing some innocent person tortured and slaughtered like a beast. Of course, the victim would suffer a great deal of pain, but by increasing the size of the crowd, we could eventually obtain an amount of pleasure for everyone else that more than balanced the suffering of the victim” (Solomon et al., 2016, p.560). This quote gives a good example of the problem in Utilitarianism because even though you are increasing the pleasure of everyone to more than balances his pain, you are still causing an innocent person great pain. Can Utilitarianism and Kant’s deontological system complement on another? Within Utilitarianism and the deontological system of Kant, the main similarity is a fact that they both reject egotistical behavior. Both of these beliefs believe that is less about me and more about other people. However, I do not believe that Utilitarianism and the deontological system of Kant can go hand in hand. This is because Utilitarianism is based on consequences and the Good. Unlike the system of Kant that is based on the intrinsic good and when an action is intrinsically good, and maxims. Kant believes that there are acts that are intrinsically negative; however, Utilitarianism says that acts are not intrinsically wrong.