Hope Of Reward Or Fear Of Punishment Philosophy

Essay add: 28-10-2015, 15:09   /   Views: 212

John Stuart Mills argument is based on utilitarianism meaning that the foundation is the greatest happiness where an action is right or wrong depending on the total outcome of happiness produced or lost between all parties. In Chapter Two of his Utilitarianism, Mill gives the definition: "The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure (448)." He then goes on to state that "the theory of life on which this theory of morality is grounded holds that pleasure, and freedom from pain, are the only things desirable as ends; and all desirable things are desirable either for the pleasure inherent in themselves, or as means to the promotion of pleasure and the prevention of pain." John Stuart Mill argues that morality is necessary under favorable circumstances people can have motives to act as it requires. Whether an action is right or wrong depends upon the actions of that kind. The set of moral rules is the one whose general acceptance would yield more total happiness than the general acceptance of any other outcome. These views define what is sometimes called 'ideal code' rule utilitarianism. The contrast is with 'actual' rule utilitarianism, which says in effect that existing moral rules are binding as long as their consequences are good enough. As it is usually understood, ideal code rule utilitarianism holds that the same moral code is authoritative for everyone within some broad group, such as a particular society or even all of humanity. The general acceptance of a set of rules then means its acceptance by everyone or nearly everyone in that group as seen in social contract theory.

Mill's argument based on net happiness is poor because it has many bad arguments. One example is Mill's argument from what is visible to what is desirable is misleading, because we can tell what is visible by identifying what is seen, it follows that we can tell what is desirable by identifying what people really desire. On closer inspection the analogy of visible and desirable falls apart because visible means it can be seen while desirable doesn't mean can be desired, what it means is should be desired. Once this weakness is shown it is hard to describe what people actually do desire is likely to reveal anything about what people should desire. He needs a stronger argument to prove general happiness is something to peruse. An opposition to Mill's argument is Immanuel Kant's argument of morals derived from duty.

In Kant's Moral Philosophy Kant explains the duty of people, "According to Kant, what is singular about motivation by duty is that it consists of bare respect for lawfulness. What naturally comes to mind is Duties are created by rules or laws of some sort. For instance, the bylaws of a club lay down duties for its officers. City and state laws establish the duties of citizens. If we do something because it is our 'civic' duty, or our duty 'as a boy scout' or 'a good American', our motivation is respect for the code that makes it our duty. Thinking we are duty bound is simply respecting certain laws pertaining to us." (7). Kant identifies the supreme moral law as the Categorical Imperative (an absolute rule that relates to all sentient life and is independent of any personal desire or bias) is binding on any rational person. The Categorical Imperative is that we should treat everyone as ends in themselves, not a means to someone else's ends (something that is not pursued because of some motive, but that is itself a motive with no further reasons). Our own moral behavior should be only that which we are prepared to see applied as a universal principle.

Kant argues that the moral worth of an action should be judged by the motivation; because of this the right action may have a negative outcome. The correct maximums are the ones that can serve as universal laws because the universal law can apply to everyone at any time. An action from duty means to put aside all bias and feeling so that nothing is left except the objectiveness, by putting aside bias and emotions any interference wouldn't be present from the decision. Thus the moral worth of an action doesn't lie in the outcome or principle that takes its motive from the result.

With both philosophers giving different views to morality of situational morality Kant provides the stronger argument of duty and respect for moral law delivers its argument that our own moral behavior should be only that which we are prepared to see applied as a universal principle so that it can apply to everyone at any time. Mills argument of whether an action is right or wrong depends upon the outcome need to know every outcome before it happened and if the strength of the morals is based upon the outcome of a situation or event then there was no moral standing to begin with and leads into a circular argument.

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