1. Explain Onora O’neil’s argument for preferring Kantian ethics to Utilitarianism. 2. How would Richard Taylor respond to O’neil’s defense of Kantianism? In the following questions, Onora O’neil defends Kantian ethics while Richard Taylor agrees more with the Utilitarian ethics view. To fully understand both views and why each author defends their view, a brief introduction of each author and who they are is necessary. Onora O’neil is a philosophy professor at Cambridge University, while Richard Taylor also teaches philosophy, at the University of Rochester.
He has written many books on ethics and metaphysics. He strongly criticizes Kant’s philosophy by saying it is too abstract. The Philosopher Kant in contrast with Mill deals with, de ontological ethics that, means rule based ethics, which basically deals with an either wrong or right way of action. For example, in terms of stealing, Kant would say that this action or act is always wrong. Mill (Utilitarian ethics) on the other hand who deals with Consequential ist ethics which basically means that our actions have a consequence but that it all depends on the situation or incident of for example, stealing is right or wrong.
Mill, who is famous for Utilitarianism, decides on every incident of a situation. Both of these Philosophers are mostly concern with principal of individual action, which is our intent or our acts in general. The difference between them is whether these acts are either right or wrong. While Mill focuses on the consequences of actions, Kant does not, and puts more emphasis on our actions. 1. To fully explain Onora O’neil’s argument for preferring Kantian ethics to Utilitarianism, a summary is needed of what Kantianism is all about.
... doctor would be the wrong thing to do and through Kant that action is not morally justified, since the moral law demands ... which the main objective is to explain the nature of ethics and morality. There are many formulations to this theory. Utilitarianism ... going against his own belief of taking life. Unlike Kant, John Stuart Mill believed in an ethical theory known as utilitarianism. Utilitarianism ...
Onora O’neil’s argument is very useful because it explains in detail a review of Kantianism and a comparison of this with Utilitarianism. The main requirement Onora O’neil focuses on is that persons be treated as ends in themselves and on the value of human life. In her essay she also states what is right and wrong with both sides. The theory called Kantianism written by the famous philosopher Kant is difficult to understand O’neil tells us, because Kant gives a number of versions of what he calls the Principal of Morality. O’neil makes her argument appear more simple by only focusing on one part of the theory, the part of the Categorical Imperative, which O’neil chooses to show the implications of the version named “the Formula of the End of Itself” which to understand O’neil suggests that you must know what it means to treat a person as a means or as an end. This means the person cannot consent to the act such as making a false promise or deceiving someone.
These acts are always wrong and unjust according to Kant. O’neil prefers Kantian ethics because it is more restricted. In other words, Kantian ethics deals with those acts that are intentional and individual maxims, which are our decisions toward an act. She prefers Kant because of the requirements of justice. In Utilitarianism, for example, the death penalty is enforced. Kant on the other hand as O’neil suggests that this is acting on some maxims which imply that we are using others as mere means.
O’neil prefers Kantian ethics also, because justice requires that we act on no maxims that use others as mere means. Also, as she mentions in her essay, “Kant and Utilitarianism Contrasted” because it considers only the proposals for action that occur to them and they check (but they, I mean the people who believe in either one of these views), that these proposals use no other as mere means. In contrast with Utilitarian ethics, acting on these proposals could mean they will use others and still go ahead anyways with the proposal or action for Utilitarian ethics. But for Kantian, if the proposal or action will not use others then the act is allowed, but for Utilitarianism it doesn’t matter whether it will or not, the proposal will be allowed regardless.
... people whereas wrong as they uphold unhappiness. Kantian ethics on the other hand puts a persons benefit before the greater good, that is ... implication arise from Kant’s ethics even if this in my opinion is a more logical means that a person should consider ... to do than Kant’s ethics. There are two classical types of utilitarianism, which are act and rule utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism is right ...
This is one major reason why O’neil prefers Kantianism. She also mentions that Kantian ethics has a more restricted scope which means that it is more pr ” excised on how it guides the action, and states some comparisons of this with Utilitarian ethics where peoples own “lives may be sacrificed to benefit a greater good even if the persons are not willing (O’neil / pp . 43) “, in order to produce happiness. The difference is whether or not the persons are treated as ends in themselves, where in Utilitarian ethics they are not. In conclusion, O’neil prefers Kant because this theory contains more respect for persons as a whole, and also the sense of everyone even if they ” re mentally ill, etc. is still valued strongly in Kantianism.
2. In Richard Taylor’s, “A Critique of Kantianism” we can formulate how he would respond to O’neil’s defense of Kantianism. In his critique he mentions that Kant’s theory is too impersonal and abstract, and he also says that what Kant calls the Moral Law is simply “pure abstractions” because they have no content. This means that the abstractions are simply the form of law and do not really contain specific examples and detailed information to evaluate someone’s morals. In response to O’neil’s defense of “Why humans are considered mere persons in end of themselves”, Taylor responds by saying that this is just focusing on one particular quality, that they are simply just abstract ideas. Taylor would respond to O’neil’s defense very harshly by saying that the person only acts (in a Kantian world) to respect moral law and not for any other reasons.
This means that for Kant the duties of justice are what count the most. Taylor seemingly that he seems to like Utilitarian ethics (even though his article doesn’t actually say that) we can still get a sense of this from his final statement when he says, “The problem is how we get from where we are to where we want to go. It is on our answer to this question that our whole happiness and our worth as human beings depends… Our problem is to find those answers that do in fact work (Taylor/ pp. 69).” Kant and O’neil do not answer these questions. Taylor seems to value more the life of persons just like Utilitarianism has a great respect for life, while Kant has more respect for persons as a whole.
... or reward that they may bring to the person. Kant claimed that moral behaviour does not guarantee the ... command to act in a particular way. Kant views a person to be most free when they can overcome ... this is still what Kant would regard as a morally right act. Although Kantianism has had a profound effect ... it will not be absolute and binding upon every person. The purpose of morality is to affect our ...
Taylor would disagree with O’neil’s defense of Kantianism and prefer a less abstract moral system that is more in close contact with human nature, that is more realistic in terms of its goals. Because Taylor was disdainful of Kant meaning that he was prideful of him and thought that his theory was too abstract he would probably react with trying to make his form of Kant less abstract and more metaphysical, and since Taylor has been known to study this, perhaps he will reach a conclusion of happiness and what the worth of humans depends on simply by making Kant’s theory more reasonable and detailed in its content with full explanations, rather as O’neil shows, filled with too much philosophical ideas that do not offer full explanations, in other words too abstract.