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Kant's Theory - Essay Example

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Kant's Theory

In order to act rationally, one must be guided by a supreme law of morality which determines right or wrong in our moral duties. Kant referred to the rule as the Categorical Imperative, which means a command with no other option or alternative. Morality is based on this rule since it is a command that applies to every human being. He says that people should be treated as an end, and not as a means. A prohibited action should not be done even if the outcome of the action yields more happiness or satisfaction (Johnson). On the other hand, utilitarianism theories suggest that there is no rule that dictates what is good or bad. The state of affairs is what determines the action to be taken. They argue that an evaluation of the results of an action is more essential than the assessment of the action itself. This means that one is justified to do anything, whether morally rational or not, as far as the action generates more positive consequences than negative (Brown). In an effort to justify his claims for morality and Categorical Imperative, Kant put forward a critique against utilitarianism. He points out that utilitarianism ignores moral obligations and treats them as unnecessary. This can be described using an example. Giving false witness against a criminal would lead to his conviction by the law. If the criminal is jailed, this would mean a better life to the whole public and people will be happy. According to the consequentialists, such an action is justifiable and morally right. According to Kant, the act is morally wrong, even though it has been done to criminal. This shows that utilitarians render some of the moral duties irrelevant. The utilitarians act in a manner to maximize utility or happiness. This means that everybody is morally responsible for whatever they do and should hence act in a way that will increase happiness. According to Kant, this theory is so demanding. It will lead to people putting a lot of efforts just to achieve the end results, and this would mean sacrificing so much; to the extent of sacrificing own happiness in order to please the large number of people. This, in itself is devaluing the persons to whom it is supposed to be of assistance (McCormick). The fact that utilitarians are led by their desire for happiness and utility is a weakness in itself. When acting in the pursuit for pleasure, one may end up being subjective and work more towards achieving their own happiness rather than for the whole public. This now becomes selfishness and acting in this manner is irrational and morally unacceptable (McCormick). In determining choices, the mode of thinking of the utilitarians tends to make difficult things appear simple. This is so even in cases where the act under consideration is wrong. Kant also criticized the believe by the utilitarians that happiness is justifiably fine for everybody, despite whether they are good or bad. He stated that happiness would be of more value only to a morally good person (Brown). Kant’s critique can be termed as convincing since it plainly exposes the injustices that are covered by utilitarianism. Categorical Imperatives dictate that humans should act and treat other humans as ends and not as a means, which is treating others in the way one would wish to be treated. This theory promotes human rights and prevents any action against them. On the contrary, utilitarians’ theory can lead into injustices against human rights in its pursuit for pleasure and happiness. It makes immoral actions look moral and would sacrifice anything just for the end result. Kant’s rules are reliable, logical and dutiful and they respect human life. Question 2 ...Show more


Kant’s theory is a deontological moral theory that was put forth by Immanuel Kant. The theory attempts to explain on the factors that determine people’s actions…
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