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What does Kantian ethical theory do to utilitarian ethics (and vice versa)? Do they both hold water in the ocean of ethics or does one provide a better framework for how we should live our daily lives (granted, no system of ethics will ever be appropriate/conclusive to all walks in life)? I tend to think myself as a Kantian, so I have some predisposed bias in this debate--but try to remove yrselves from your personal ethical standards and think with me.
Basically, to ultra-simplify each idea, it's a matter of consequences or intentions. Utilitarians believe the consequences of our actions should be the deciding factor in our ethical decisions; Kantians believe it's the intentions that motivate our ethical decisions that should matter.
Now, I'm going to let my bias out to prompt a conversation/debate: Is it not possible to perform a good action, even if the outcome is bad? Isn't it considered bad to perform a good action with poor intentions? Many-many times I've heard kant/util as a relative duo--whatever floats yr boat; pepsi or cocacola. I don't really think that's the case. It seems to me that one rejects the other and vice versa.
I think you're correct, they lead to splits in the idea of 'right.'
I don't agree with everything Kant says, but I find utilitarianism a little impersonal.
-------------------- Jumped in a river, what did I see?
Black eyed angels swimming with me
Moon full of stars and astral cars, all the figures I used to see
All my lovers were there with me
All my past and all my futures
We went to heaven in a little rowboat
There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt
I would tend to reject both definitions of ethics. Both theories are based upon the bias that morality has a law-like quality to them. They think they can define morality as we define the laws of physics. I think this point of view is inherently flawed. Morality, in most philosophers minds is not an innate property of the individual, as weight, mass, etc. is an innate property of an apple. Rather, we must learn to be moral. If Kant is correct; I don't believe we'd be any more capable of being moral, than an apple is capable of changing it's shape to a cube. We are in a position in which it almost becomes our duty (to use Kant's language, and refute him as well) relativize our morality. This leads to a serious problem for the Kantian, or utilitarian. I think morality of all things is in a state of becoming, I think it's a mistake to assume logic can arrive at a law of ethics.
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