Ethics is the conscious reflection on our moral beliefs targeting to develop, expand or filter them. Kantian moral and Utilitarianism theories attempt to respond to the ethical nature of human beings. Immanuel Kant's deontological ethical theory evaluates the morality of our deeds base on the doers will or the doer's objective of doing the act. Kant's ethical theory and Utilitarianism try to explain the ethical character of humans. This paper attempts to explicate the way and the reason Kant's moral theory and Utilitarianism vary together with the reason why Kant's theory offers a more reasonable description of ethics.
This Kant's theory is classified as deontological since actions are not evaluated to be morally allowable on the foundation of consequences they yield, but instead it evaluates the actions based on the agents will at the time of doing the act. As a result, the agent's deeds are found on duty rather that end results. Kant's theory is found on ideals of maxims, will and the categorical imperative. According to Kant, a principle is universal. This means that the maxim is applicable, and reliably so, to everyone who come across falls into a similar situation. As such, the maxim or principle is a universal law.
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Willing is the second feature of the Kant's theory on morality. According to Kant, willing, as a universal principle, dictates that the agent always commits himself or herself to act in a particular way. A person will is inconsistent if he wills that x be the case and he wills that y be the case and it's impossible for x and y to be the case together. The key idea of Kant's categorical imperative is that a person ought to act in a manner that they can will that the maxim supporting one's actions can be considered as element of the universal law. The dictum or maxim must be unswerving and applicable to every condition, for every person.
An additional aspect of the Kant's theory is the imperfect and perfect duty distinction. Perfect duties refer to duties, which a person is obligated to execute in a specific context. On the other hand, imperfect duties are duties, which a person is obligated to execute when the situation comes up. John Stuart Mills' Utilitarianism is an alternative theory in which the key objective is to elucidate ethics and morality. Utilitarianism as an ethical theory is founded on utility, or carrying out the action that generates more pleasure. According to a utilitarian, the ethical quality of an act is dependent on merely the outcome. An action, according to utilitarianism, is an action is ethical if it yields the most utility for the majority of people. Nonetheless, if the greatest probable utility is not generated, the deed is considered unethical. A person should act as to yield the utmost pleasure for the majority of people who are affected by the act. Kant's theory of ethics and Utilitarianism are related in the sense that the two try to explain how one can act morally, but they vary in areas of determining morality how they apply the conventions.
According to Kant, an act is moral if it is executed out of obligation and if its principle can be applied as a general law. If a person acts based on their duty to act, their actions are moral since they perceive the action as their duty. Their act is considered ethically just. Utilitarianism would only see the act as morally allowable if the consequences of that action yield maximum utility and happiness for all involved. Kant's moral hypothesis attaches value to the general rule and maxims as its blueprint for how individuals ought to do in certain contexts. According to Kant, to accept a maxim is to obligate oneself to acting in a defined way whenever a certain situation arises. Kant's maxims place emphases on consistency. For instance, Kant came up with an ethical rule for lying, which states that if an individual lies, then the individual should be holding that everyone should lie. Kant's theory is grounded on a rational and sound hypothesis in which judgments can be arrived at.
In comparison, Utilitarianism has no universal rules on to which ethics are based and therefore they judge each situation independently. Correct moral behavior is determined by analyzing an action's consequences. Utilitarianism demands that the total good of an action is more than the negative results of the same action. If the good consequences are more than the bad, then the action is ethically correct, if the bad effects are many, then the action is morally wrong. If one was to use the utilitarian theory to determine the morality of an action, a lot of time will be used up evaluating whether the act will have pleasurable effects to the majority of the people affected by it. In fact, one may never truly know if an action really leads to the most utility. Kantian theory appears to be a lot more credible than utilitarian ethical theory despite that utilitarianism advocates for the maximization of utility.
Utilitarianism is a subjective view and is not universal unlike Kantian theory that is objective and can be applied to the general situation. One's person determination of what yields the most good will differ with another. As such, utilitarianism is not consistent and a general rule cannot be derived from it. Kant's theory is consistent and can generate universally maxims. According to Kant, even if the effects of executing a task are not desirable, the agent is still indebted to execute it since it is his or her duty. Immanuel Kant's theory is founded on the categorical imperative, obligations, maxims, and willing. On the other hand, utilitarianism is found on the idea that we ought to do whatever yields the maximum general usefulness. Both theories have clear differences, although they are comparable in some ways. Kantianism concentrates on the inspiration of actions, has clear and separate set of universal rules, and is ethically rational.
Kant holds that his philosophy is useful because a clearer understanding of ethics can help strengthen humanity's ethical sense. This is because when a reader is informed on the issues surrounding the moral question, then they can make an informed decision. For example, a reader who has a clear understanding of the Kantian categorical imperative and Mills utilitarianism and agrees with the Kant's theory will still know that it does not apply in all cases. For example, a person may be forced to lie for a good cause. According to Kant, every logical deed must be based on a principle and a set end. The majority of ends are subjective since they are chased because they are in line with certain theoretical imperative that an individual may decide to take up. If an end were to objective, it would have to be categorically sought, i.e. sought for its own sake.
According to Kant, the free will forms the foundation of every logical deed. However, free will cannot be viewed as a subjective end. This would be to reject the idea of freedom. Because the independent will is the origin of moral deeds, it would be in contradiction to the first formulation to assertion that an individual can be a means to an end, rather than always an end. On these grounds, Kant develops the categorical imperative's second formulation from the first. When the first and second formulations are combined, one gets to learn Kant's view that man has the perfect duty not to exploit humankind simply as a means to an end.
Emmanuel Kant's Categorical imperative has profound implications to business organizations tactics. Kant contends that persons should not be seen merely as means to an end but rather should be treated with respect for the individual and the humankind. Because businesses are run by persons, the Kantian theory can be construed to mean that the way an organization treats its personnel establishes the business morality or lack of it. According to Altman (p. 255), business bodies have the ability to transact and therefore meets the criteria for ethical judgments.
If business bodies carry out actions that are ethically pertinent, different adaptations of categorical imperative can be applied to establish the ethical acceptability or unacceptability of business tactics (Altman 255). It is plausible to argue that individual moral values quite in a distinctive manner, determine personal productivity in a business organization (Scott 478). In the pattern of categorical imperative, it is appropriate to develop a model of logic that breeds uniformity in decision-making. This would rein in the differences caused by carrying individual philosophies within a business organization.suc a general pattern is found in the universality principle of categorical imperative.
According to John Bruhn, every business body has made a moral or ethical character, i.e. has taken a stance on purpose or otherwise, officially of unofficially, that establish its limits of ethical conduct (p.206). According to Bruhn, businesses, through commission or omission, asserts how as a group will act and how individuals are supposed to act in the business in an organization (p. 206). It would then seem apt that businesses should adapt a code of ethics. This, though, as good as it sounds is not consistent with Kantian ethics. A code of conduct, according to Kant's ethical philosophy is a set of rules to be adhered to and ensures that personal reflection and rationale and upshot is not possible. Kant rejected the reduction of human beings into moral machines who follow some set of rules guiding their conduct as if they have no ability to reason.
As Peck posits Kant's categorical imperative does not offer a machine-like framework, as critics appear to suggest (p.209). Kant deontological theory is duty based. According to him, what makes a deed right or otherwise is not the results. On the other hand, the categorical imperative states "act in accordance to a maxim or a principle which can, simultaneously, be applied as a universal maxim. Central to categorical imperative is personal accountability. Individuals act, ideally, after a meticulous processing of facts. This is a major pointer to the inapplicability of Kant's moral theory in business. This however does not mean that persons ca never be held accountable for their decisions within a business organization. In conclusion, although Kant's moral theory can be applicable to the business tactics, there are some limitations to it as pointed out.
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