The task that stands before me in this paper is to address two situations and determine the ethical parameters in which a person should act. The two philosophical approaches that I will examine the situations with the Kantian and Utilitarian point of view. Kant deciphers his ethical questions by examining a persons motivation for performing an act regardless of the consequences. A person who utilizes the Kantian view believes that the only pure good is pure human reason without consequences. This pure human reason works without the influence of human emotions and desires. A truly good act as defined by Kant is performed because of an obligation to the categorical imperative. The objectives and personal agendas of the individual performing the act must kept separate and distinct.
Utilitarism makes ethical decisions based on the consequences of the action taken. Unlike the Kantian view the motives are not important just the consequences. The action is measured by how much happiness or sadness the action creates. The ideal ethical decision is the one that creates the most happiness and the least amount of sadness. It nearly impossible to have different degrees of freedom since a person would have to experience all the various degrees of freedom to determine what degree of happiness is better than the other.
Upon examining the thief who stole from the millionaire Kant would examine the motives of the thief. The thief is stealing for himself regardless of his situation. Even if his family is poor and struggling. The thief is still furthering himself. The reasons for the thief stealing from the wealthy man doesnt matter. Stealing is against the universal law that it is wrong to steal from another person. This applies to everyday life and decision-making occurrences, needs and wants are thrown out the window. Any form of stealing is wrong according to Kant.
This is a strong argument because it stands firm in that it is wrong to steal. We are in a society that has laws and regulations against stealing this keeps order in society. The Kantian view does not waver despite the possible physical and emotional needs of the thief. Kant doesnt make exceptions for the poor and unfortunate.
A person using the Utilitarian ethic code would look at the situation then examine the consequences of the action taken. The millionaire doesnt have a clue that the money is gone. There are plenty of indicators that the man is stealing quality of life and material possessions are two for example. As a result of this stealing the man has brought happiness to himself, his family, and to the community around him because they dont have to support them. The heavy burdens of poverty and despair have been vanquished. The burdens of oppression are availed and the family can rise in class and social status among their peers. The only downside is the fear of being exposed. If the thief was found out he could lose his freedom, possessions, and respect of his peers after the discovery of his treachery. But if the thief remained undiscovered he has made everybody happier. By being a sufficient, integral member of society he is making everybody happier.
This analysis is favoring the thief, stealing is not looked upon as a bad deed. People get jailed, executed, or have body parts removed for theft but in the utilitarian view he gets away with it as long as he is not found out. The negative part of this analysis is that one has to steal from another human being to be happy and successful. Is there a situation where stealing is justified?
The next situation deals with a daughter who lies to her dying father that she will not marry anyone that has a different religious affiliation. The Kantian view would first examine the motives of the daughter for lying to her dying father. By lying to her father the girl is trying to ease the suffering her father is going through by denying his final wish. She is reassuring him in his final hours on earth. By lying to her dad she is giving him happiness and trying to relieve herself of the guilt associated with her