Utilitarianism and Kant`s Deontological Ethics

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Utilitarianismand Kant`s Deontological Ethics

Utilitarianismand Kant`s Deontological Ethics

Earlyphilosophers have tried to define morality and the ethics in whichmorals should be conducted. There is a significant number ofphilosophies that question the morality and human behavior. Some ofthe common theories are Utilitarianism and Kant’s DeontologicalEthics. Critics and scholars all over the world have compared andcontradicted the two approaches in an attempt to understand theassertions that form the basis of the two philosophical approaches.The theory of Utilitarianism widely opposes Kant’s DeontologicalEthics regarding defining morality and explaining the nature of humanbehavior however, the essay will provide a detailed analysisindicating the close relatedness of the two theories in explainingvarious societal issues that affect individuals and all human beings.

Thewritings of John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham formed the basis ofthe Utilitarian theory. Utilitarians were democratic, optimistic,empiricist, and believed in the fair distribution of resources forall human beings (MacKinnon &amp Fiala, 2015). Mill explained thatutilitarianism functions under the greatest happiness principle. Theprinciple asserts that happiness is the good to be produced. Kant’sDeontological theory primarily focuses on duties, rights, andobligations. Kant believed that individuals have an obligation toquestion and control behavior despite societal and other externalforces. The theory explains human behavior through hypotheticalimperative and categorical imperative.

Utilitarianismand Kant’s Deontological Ethics relate in various instances. Anexample of a social problem that can be defined using the Utilitarianor Kantian perspective is the use of the veil in the Muslim culture.In a utilitarian standpoint, the women in the Muslim culture shouldbe allowed to dress according to their choice. Utilitarianismsupports that we should do that which maximizes overall happiness. Inthe case of the Muslims, men support the veil because they want totake control of the women however, the outcome does not bringhappiness to all individuals in the community. Instead, women shouldbe allowed to remove the veil because a significant number of themwill be freed from bondage. Besides, Kant’s categorical imperativesupports equality to all persons. The categorical imperativepostulates that, “we do what we can accept or will that everyonedo” (MacKinnon &amp Fiala, 2015). In this case, the use of theveil should be utilized across all cultures instead of being limitedto the Muslims and other Orthodox Jewish communities. The use of theheaddress is not an acceptable universal law hence, it should beabolished. The above instance shows that Utilitarianism and Kant’sdeontological ethics share the same ideology of equality to all humanbeings.

Equallyimportant, another case that demonstrates the relationship betweenthe two theories is the definition of feminine morality, inparticular on the definition of sex. In defining sex, the male is theprimary sex while the female is regarded as the other. Such acontradiction results in women being controlled and assigned rolesthat encourage their subordination to the male counterparts. Manywomen writers such as Beauvoir have stressed the need for women to beindependent in making their decisions. The Kantian perspectivejustifies the need for women to be independent. According to thesecond form of the categorical imperative, “human beings should beregarded as having values in themselves and not just havinginstrumental value” (MacKinnon &amp Fiala, 2015). In this case,women have the right to contradict and stand on their own against theinequalities they face in the society. Although utilitarians wouldsignificantly oppose women standing for their rights, the Actutilitarianism would agree with the said action. In Actutilitarianism, if the consequences of seeking equal rights arebetter than living their lives controlled by the men, then theiractions are justifiable. Moreover, in defining ethics of care, theissue brings interconnection of the two theories. Society views womenas primary caregivers for the children and they should learn from anearly age how to become exceptional nurturers for their kids.Although in some African and American societies, men share caringduties with the women, a significant number assign the caring role tothe women. Utilitarianism suggests that the “ends of our actionsdetermine whether particular means to them are justified”(MacKinnon &amp Fiala, 2015, p. 99). For this case, women should notview themselves as being harassed by taking care of the childrenthey should instead continue to act as the primary caregivers. Kant’smoral philosophy upholds that human beings should morally do whatthey ought to do. In this case, women should continue to nurturetheir children without complaining because it is a practice that hasexisted for a long time.

Theexamples mentioned in the essay function to show the relationshipbetween Utilitarianism and Kant’s deontological ethics. The twotheories share the same ideologies when it comes to equality of allpersons, definition of sex, ethics of care, and the need to actindependently. The relationship of the theories is not directlyvisible and requires close comparison and analysis of a socialproblem to identify instances that indicate the connection. Thesocietal problems named above have been explained using the twotheories to show existing relations. It is evident that althoughutilitarian critics widely oppose Kantian perspectives regardinghuman moral behavior, the text provides instances that show closeties to the two approaches.


MacKinnon,B &amp Fiala, A. (2015). Ethics:Theory and contemporary issues(8thed.). Stamford, USA: Cengage Learning.