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Utilitarian Vs. Kantian

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Essay title: Utilitarian Vs. Kantian

This paper was written during the final exam for an ethics class, from memory. As such, there are no referances, but it still makes for a pretty good outline for a paper on utilitarian and Kantian ethical theories.

With so many varying views on morals and ethics, trying to use reason in ethics without resorting to emotional judgments is difficult. The first stop to overcoming this obstacle is to begin by studying ethical theories. Once a good grasp of the theories has been established, the next task is to create an extreme hypothetical situation and apply the theories to it. Once this can be achieved correctly, it will become easier to make ethical decisions in day-to-day life. Following this process the situation is thus: ten people are in a coastal cave with one exit. The first person trying to exit gets stuck in the entrance trapping the other nine within the cave. The only way to extract the one is to use explosives, killing the one. If the one is not freed, he/she would survive, but the nine would be drowned by the rising tide. Examining this scenario and applying Kantian Ethical Theory (Kantian) and Utilitarian Theory it becomes evident that the right thing to do is to blast that mother lover out of the way whether one takes it from the perspective of the one or the nine.

The first exploration will be taken from the viewpoint of the one using Kantian Ethical Theory. At first glance, Kantian seems to suggest that this person could not kill him/herself because in Kant's writings he states that suicide is wrong. The reason for this is because of the maxim given in the act (A), circumstances (C), end (E) format of "(A) I will kill myself, (C) when I am in pain, (E) out of self love." According to Kant the purpose of self love prevents one from killing oneself, and this paradox cause this maxim to fall within what he calls "narrow duties." However, in this scenario, the circumstances and the purpose of the action are different. So the maxim can be written "(A) I will kill myself, (C) when it would save my friend's life, (E) for benefice." By using this maxim we have taken suicide out of the narrow duties category, because it is no longer a contradiction in conception. This maxim is close, but this maxim does not pass the Fundamental Universal Law test (FUL), in that if it is applied to all, the friend the one is trying to help would also commit suicide to prevent the one from doing the same. Now, writing the maxim "(A) I will kill myself, (C) because my death will save more than would die if I didn't, (E) for benefice." This maxim passes the FUL test, can still be considered a general policy, and contains no paradox. Therefore according to Kantian Ethical Theory, it would be right for the one to blow him/herself to kingdom come.

Now, from the perspective of the nine, again, with a cursory look at Kantian Ethical Theory, it would seem that it would be wrong to kill the one. The reason for this is that individuals are an end unto themselves, and using a person merely as a means is wrong. Again, though, this rule does not apply to this particular scenario, because the treating of a person as a means is taken out of context. Kant's Formula of the End in Itself states, "Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end." To expand on this, O'Neill states, "To use someone as a 'mere means' is to involve them in a scheme of action 'to which they could not in principle consent.' Kant does not say that there is anything wrong using someone as a means. Evidently we have to do so in any cooperative scheme of action." It is already proven that the one could willingly consent to the contract of being blown to shit as it

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