Mill And Immanuel Kant Analysis Essay

J. S. Mill and Immanuel Kant each believe that there is only one clear option when faced with a predicament that could cause suffering to other individuals, although what they believe to be morally right is not what you would immediately think to be morally right. According to these philosophers, there are occasionally situations where the morally right obligation may not seem clear, because there is still suffering involved.

Both Mill and Kant believe that morally conflicting situations can be resolved by following a distinct idea to choose a path with the least amount of suffering involved to either the other people involved in the situation or the deciders moral soul. While Mill states that you should consider the end of a situation, Kant believes that you should follow a strict idea of universal laws to determine your means to the end. Their views may differ, but they both come together on the idea that moral dilemmas can be solved by applying ideas that can be shared universally.

In a situation where Jim is given the choice to die with twenty others, or kill one Indian and live along with the nineteen others, Mill and Kant would both have immediate answers for what Jim should do. Considering the intensity of the situation one would think this would be a thoughtful dilemma. If Jim choses to not kill the man then he will die with the other men, but by killing someone he is able to save multiple lives. Assuming that killing someone is not something that Jim ever thought about doing, because he feels uneasy in this situation, he will be haunted for the rest of his life by the blood of another man on his hands.

If Jim were to receive advice from Mill, he would be told to consider the greatest good. In this situation the greatest good, according to Mill, would be for Jim to kill the single Indian, so that a greater number of people could live. According to Mill, in order to achieve the greatest amount of good you must choose the path the causes the least amount of pain. This is demonstrated when Mill discusses how people make decisions. Based on chapter one of Mill’s Utilitarianism there should not even be a decision to be made, there should be a natural pull to what would make Jim the happiest.

He writes that by nature people, “are greatly influenced by what they suppose to be the effects of things upon their happiness, the principle of utility, or as Bentham latterly called it, the greatest happiness principle” (pg. 4) Using this thought process, Mill would state that Jim must kill the man, so that Jim, could live on to be happy. By killing the single Indian Jim would also be increasing the amount of people who would live on to be happy. This is the basis of the principle of utility, or the greatest happiness principle.

As seen in the YouTube videos about Utilitarianism, the principle of utility is the idea that you should always choose the option that creates the most happiness even if it means killing someone. This set of laws were determined to help create a clear idea of how one should proceed while facing a moral dilemma. “When we engage in a pursuit, a clear and precise conception of what we are pursuing would seem to be the first thing we need, instead of the last we are to look forward to. (Mill, 3)

Assuming that everyone’s happiness is worth the same amount, you are able to look at the situation as numbers instead of as human lives. If twenty out of twenty-one people live, those are considered better numbers than twenty one dying. Alternative to Mill’s perspective, Kant believes that your moral decisions should be made based off reason depending on the situation. According to Kant, Jim should not kill the Indian because it is not the right thing to do. The motives dictating Jim’s actions should not be to get to the best end, he should be motivated to choose the best means to the end.

As Kant writes in his Metaphysics of Morals, “which determines the will by means of the conceptions of reason, and consequently not from subjective causes, but objectively, that is on principles which are valid for every rational being as such. ” (Kant, 7) Using this logic Kant would explain to Jim that the best action would be to follow his moral obligations, which may differ from person to person. Understanding the idea of working for the means and not the end is best described though categorical imperatives.

This means that an individual makes choices based off their moral duty, instead of what may be the best situation overall. Kant would use this methodology to persuade lim to do what he feels is the right decision, because it is his duty to do what is right. Because what Jim feels is morally right is not explained, I feel that it should be assumed that Jim believes that killing people is morally wrong considering in the situation he pauses instead of immediately choosing to kill the Indian.

To follow what Jim thinks is morally right, he would have to deny the option to kill the Indian meaning that he and the others would all die. The drive for Jim is his moral maximum, the drive behind making a choice described as a categorical imperative. “There is therefore but one categorical imperative, namely, this: Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should become a universal law. ” (Kant, 12) Jim would need to think about the action that he is about to make. Which course of action would make a universal law?

The action that Jim choses should be able to be applied to anyone in similar situation, which would make it a universal law. If asking what decision anyone should make in Jim’s position would be used to help explain to Jim the first principle of categorical imperative, Kant would ask: what would Jim want done to him if he was in the shoes of the single Indian to be killed, in order to explain the second formulation. Jim should think about the golden rule, and do unto others as he would have them do unto him.

If he were in the shoes of the single Indian, would he want someone to kill him, or would he want someone to stick to their morals and die anyway, however joined by twenty other souls. I find that Kant’s argument has the most flaws in this situation. For example, Kant would believe that killing is wrong, even if it would prevent multiple people from dying. Therefore, Jim should stick to his morals, act selflessly, and die along with the others. However, I find the most problems with Kant’s argument when you apply the second formulation.

His extremism to follow morals, “is nothing else but to contemplate morality stripped of all admixture of sensible things and of every spurious ornament of reward or self-love. ” (Kant, 15) If the situation were reversed and Jim was in place of the single Indian, the selfless act would be to die, but the selfless act of the one who had to kill Jim would be to not kill him. Mill’s argument is critiqued by the idea that sometimes the principle of utility goes against a person’s morals. With Jim, he his having to go against his morals to kill a man, so that the greatest number of survivors can be achieved.

It would only be natural for him to wonder if pulling the trigger is worth the possible repercussions, but Mill’s argues that, “the morality of an individual action is not a question of direct perception, but of the application of a law to an individual case. ” (Mill, 3) “When we engage in a pursuit, a clear and precise conception of what we are pursuing would seem to be the first thing we need, instead of the last we are to look forward to. ” (Mill, 3) Your morals are supposed to be firm beliefs that you hold, as Kant would say, above all else. There are two ways to look at this situation.

Understanding that the decision should be made from a selfless standpoint, I agree with Kant’s argument. If I were in place of Jim I would not want to compromise my morals, and if I have to die it would be an honorable death. From a selfish view, I would agree more with Mill’s argument, because it would mean that I would get to live. However, the idea of what explanation of what is selfish and what is not, could be flipped. Jim could also be considered selfish if he choses to not kill the Indian, he is causing twenty others to die with him, because he was not willing to compromise his morals.

Controversially, if he does kill the single Indian he would be selfish, because he is putting his life over another. By using the methodologies presented by Mill and Kant, I agree more with Mill. There are negative views on how any situation is handled, but I would want to kill the single Indian, so that I could spare the others. If you look at it as being bad to have one life on your hands, it would be even worse to have twenty. It is a hard decision to make, but I believe that both philosophers are trying to provide ways to prepare you for situations where your morals may be conflicted.