Utilitarianism and Kantian Ethics

Subject: Philosophy
Pages: 2
Words: 294
Reading time:
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Utilitarian and deontological ethics explain whether an action should be regarded as right or wrong. The difference is that utilitarianism argues that the consequences of an action matter, whereas Kantian ethics suggests that they should not be considered. Thus, for utilitarianism, an action is right only if it leads to the best possible outcomes. On the contrary, deontological ethics implies that for an action to be good, it is enough to be driven by a sane reason. For example, from the utilitarian perspective, it is bad to steal cars because it makes the victim anxious and causes inconveniences. From Kant’s viewpoint, the same action is bad because it was caused by the intention to violate the inalienable right of man for the property.

Both perspectives address lying in entirely different ways. Utilitarian thinkers assume that lying could be justified when its goals are to make someone better off and reduce harm to a minimum. In contrast, Kant claims that lying is morally wrong and could by no means be justified. Deontologists consider that lie undermines a human’s ability to be rational and make rational choices and deprives people of moral worth.

The analysis of lying could hardly be called a weakness or a strength of each theory. That is so because the two approaches reflect the different perspectives on the same problem and prove the conclusions by reasonable arguments. It is up to every person to decide the attitude to moral premises suggested by the theories. Still, utilitarianism could be criticized that there is no guarantee that a lie would lead to good outcomes. Deontology could be blamed for not considering if the action of telling falsehood was initially driven by morally right motives.