Print Сite this

Kant’s and Mill’s Ethical Philosophies


Human beings have always been troubled by various ethical and moral issues. These issues are associated with the major principles that define what is wrong or right. Principles of human morality usually focus on the distinction between bad and good behaviors. However, societies and individuals have developed diverse values of conduct thus resulting in ethical dilemmas. Morality is a critical field that continues to attract the attention of many ethicists, scholars, philosophers, politicians, and sociologists. The professionals have been using the concept of morality to produce new principles that can support the needs of more citizens.

We will write a
custom essay
specifically for you

for only $16.05 $11/page
308 certified writers online
Learn More

The works of Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill have been widely analyzed in order to address the dilemmas associated with morality. This discussion therefore offers a critical analysis of the works of these two moralists. The paper goes further to defend John Mill’s theory against that of Immanuel Kant.

Immanuel Kant’s Moral Theory

Kant’s ethics is something governed by the notion of categorical imperative. This imperative formulates a universal moral principle that explains why people should respect others. This means that they should embody rules and actions that are appropriate for other people. According to the theorist, rational creatures should always follow the same moral principles. The theorist also believes that the moral worth of an action is usually dictated by the human will. In order to act in a positive manner, Kant believes that human beings should be aware of the moral law.

This knowledge makes it easier for people to act in accordance with the three categorical imperatives. The first imperative is that people should act in accordance with a maxim that can become a universal law. The second imperative is that human beings should act in such a way that they treat humanity as an end. This means that they should not treat mankind as means to an end. The third formulation of Kant’s imperative states that every rational being needs to act as if he were, through his maxim, a legislating member of the universal kingdom of ends.

Kant’s deontological theory also examines the nature of duty. According to Kant, the wrongness (or rightness) of an action does not depend on its anticipated consequences. The rightness of an action is therefore determined by its ability to fulfill human duty. The good will, according to Kantian ethics, is the one whose decisions are guided by the best moral demands. In other words, a good will is something that should be in accordance with the Moral Law.

Since many societies believe that Moral Law is something that affects their desires, the thought of duty plays a major role towards dictating a person’s good will. Kant therefore uses the categorical imperative to describe the issue of human morality. The three versions therefore explain why human actions should be judged by their intentions.

John Stuart Mill’s Moral Theory

Mill’s utilitarianism is founded on the premise that a universal agreement can dictate the best moral values and practices. The use of appropriate moral sanctions, according to the theorist, can produce proper conduct from human beings. As well, internal sanctions can also play a major role towards guiding the behaviors and practices of more people. Some of these sanctions include guilt, human conscience, and self-esteem. Human beings should therefore act in accordance with the existing moral guidelines.

Get your
100% original paper
on any topic

done in as little as
3 hours
Learn More

Mill’s work also presents the principle of utility. This principle is widely known as the greatest happiness principle. According to Mill, this principle is something that can make it easier for people to achieve universal happiness. In his attempt to sustain or support the concept of happiness, the theorist goes deeper to describe the issue of morality. The theory postulates that actions should be deemed right if they are undertaken to promote happiness for the greatest number of persons.

Actions are wrong if they are aimed at producing the opposite of happiness. John Mill’s theory places pleasure into both mental and physical categories. The highly-valued pleasure is something that cannot be substituted. For example, the theorist believes that an educated person will require more resources to be happy compared. As well, a non-educated individual will require less.

The above argument can be supported using the proof for the principle of utility. It should be observed that humans cannot use reasoning to approve any utility principle. The theory indicates that the main proof that an action (or pleasure) is desirable is by determining whether the targeted people actually need it. This argument explains why happiness fulfills this requirement. All people want to be happy and make it an end. In order to achieve this end, the philosopher believes that the principles of morality should be used wisely.

The theorist goes ahead to explain how utilitarianism leaves enough room for people to determine whether happiness is characterized by other aspects or experiences admirable to them. This argument is relevant because it makes it easier for human beings to have a wider understanding and interpretation of happiness.

Critical Evaluation

Several strengths can be observed in Kantianism. The ethicist offers consistent and impartial aspects of morality. He argues that human beings should respect others in the way they lead their lives. This approach can encourage people to deal with various biases and focus on the greatest good for all. The theory also makes it easier for societies to interpret the concept of morality. His arguments and moral rights are applicable in all societies. Human beings can therefore embrace Kant’s ethical law to pursue happiness through the use of reason. This means that people can use the three categorical imperatives to produce desirable actions.

However, the good will proposed by Kant may not always be good. This is the case because a person who focuses on his or her reasoning might make life impossible for others. That being the case, the greatest weakness of Kantianism is that it treats reason as the source of moral law. As well, a person’s reason is not appropriate towards promoting desirable moral actions. It can also be argued that the categorical imperative presented by Kant is inconsistent. The model shows that people can use their neighbors as means to promote wrong deeds.

On the other hand, Mill’s ethical law begins with happiness. By so doing, happiness becomes a universal principle that can be used to understand the concept of utilitarianism. The theory argues that human beings tend to have similar views about happiness, pain, and pleasure. Human beings can use these views to balance their common interests. Moral actions should be able to promote happiness for all human beings.

We will write a custom
for you!
Get your first paper with
15% OFF
Learn More

The theory is also practical because it does not rely on human reasoning. For instance, societies can consider what makes more people happy and formulate the best policies towards achieving such goals. As well, the theory is applicable in different scenarios and circumstances. The ultimate goal is for people to offer new rules and sanctions that have the potential to maximum happiness.

The main weakness of this theory is that it does not support a personal moral philosophy. This is true because utilitarianism focuses on the wider community. The theory argues that people can be responsible for things they have not done. The law requires humankind to embrace the best actions that might promote happiness for the greatest majority. This approach will support the needs of more people and eventually make every society successful.

Concluding Remarks

The society is characterized by many people with diverse intentions and expectations in life. Kant’s law encourages people to use the power of reason in an attempt to act ethically. However, this proposition can result in actions that have the potential to affect the welfare of others. Mill’s theory is the most preferable alternative for promoting different moral goals. Mill’s Kantianism encourages people to embrace the power of sanctions and make positive decisions that have the potential to promote happiness for all. Societies can use these concepts to develop new laws and eventually support the welfare of their people.

The flexibility and practicality of utilitarianism makes it applicable in different social settings. The theory is not supported by formless principles or nonfigurative intuitions. Sociologists and scholars can use the model to produce powerful policies that can make every person happy. The move will eventually produce the most desirable social good.

Cite this paper

Select style


StudyCorgi. (2020, December 23). Kant’s and Mill’s Ethical Philosophies. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2020, December 23). Kant’s and Mill’s Ethical Philosophies.

Work Cited

"Kant’s and Mill’s Ethical Philosophies." StudyCorgi, 23 Dec. 2020,

* Hyperlink the URL after pasting it to your document

1. StudyCorgi. "Kant’s and Mill’s Ethical Philosophies." December 23, 2020.


StudyCorgi. "Kant’s and Mill’s Ethical Philosophies." December 23, 2020.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "Kant’s and Mill’s Ethical Philosophies." December 23, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Kant’s and Mill’s Ethical Philosophies'. 23 December.

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.