Essay Example: Hypothetical Situation and Kant's Deontology

Published: 2022-02-23
Essay Example: Hypothetical Situation and Kant's Deontology
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Immanuel Kant Ethical dilemma
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1272 words
11 min read

The Benefits of Lung Cancer Moral Dilemma

The case of Philip Morris a tobacco company operating its business in the Czech Republic where cigarettes smoking is popular and embraced by society presents a moral dilemma. The company sponsored a cost-benefit analysis of the effects of smoking on the country's budget after the government considered increasing taxes in cigarettes due to the worrying healthcare costs resulting from smoking (Sandel, 42). Nevertheless, the outcomes of the study indicated that the financial gains of tobacco outweighed the losses. The study argued that while smokers are alive, they impose substantial financial burden of the budget of the country, but they die early saving the government a significant amount of money that could be spent on healthcare, pension and housing for the elderly. The study found out that the government gains $147 million annually from tax revenues and saving that result from premature deaths of smokers (42). The study raised public concern which significantly affected the public relations of the company.

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This case raises a moral dilemma on the value of fundamental human values. The study portrays the moral weakness of the utilitarian perspective on the cost-benefit analysis. By arguing that deaths resulting from lung cancer are more beneficial to the country undervalues human life. It is illogical to only consider the financial impacts of smoking without considering the health and overall human wellbeing impact of smoking in society. From Bentham's moral perspective it would be logical if the cost-benefit analysis considered comparing the cost associated with the premature death of smokers to their families against the financial benefits that the early deaths would bring to the government (43). This case raises the moral issue whether it is noble to convert values into monetary values. In some cases, the cost-benefit analysis goes overboard by attaching a monetary value to human life. By analyzing this case, it is also imperative to argue whether negative things should be permitted in a country merely considering their financial benefits to the state and overlooking their social implications.

Kant's Deontology vs. Utilitarianism

Immanuel Kant coined a deontological moral philosophy commonly referred to as Kantianism. According to Kant the rightness of the action is determined by duty, goodwill, and moral worth. He argues that people have a fundamental obligation of respecting the dignity of a person and should therefore not use people as a means, even when the results expected are positive (Sandel, 103). Many people perceive freedom as the ability to act according to their will. However, Kant argued that if our desire controls our actions, then we work like slaves to those desires (Sandel, 108). Kant holds strong regard to human rights and argues that all human beings should be respected regardless of their status or location (105). Thus human beings should not be used as instruments to bring collective happiness. From Kant's perspective, universal laws should be applied in determining the morally moral decisions.

On the other hand, Jeremy Bentham founded the ideology of utilitarianism. The utilitarianism was opposed against the natural laws. From Bentham's perspective, morality is based on the principle of maximum happiness and the balance of pleasure over pain. According to Bentham, the right action is the one that maximizes utility (Sandel, 34). With the utility, he referred to something that produces pleasure or happiness and also prevented pain or suffering.

There are significant differences between the two perspectives. Analyzing the Peter Singer's work on Famine, Affluence, and Morality using the tow perspectives can help in illustrating the differences between the two aspects. Singer perspective is based on the Kantianism perspective. He used the situation in East Bengal where people were dying of famine, lack of shelter and medical care to bring out some ethical issues. Singer noted that deaths and suffering in the region were inevitable; however, the richer nations could alleviate the pain of approximately nine million people who were being faced by this tragedy. He argues that human beings can make and act to prevent such decisions, but it is unfortunate that people do not make the necessary decisions. The people had not taken any significant step to help solve the situation while nations had provided financial aid no one was demanding the governments to increase the funds to give the refugees in Bengal with the basic needs (Singer, 229). The government had not provided enough resources that would support the needs of the refugees for a year. Singer noted that the governments were ready to help other projects which required more finances that maintaining the refugees in Bengal (230). From the Kantianism perspective, it would be moral if the governments prioritized the wellbeing of the refugees in Bengal over expensive funding project. On the other hand, from the utilitarianism perspective providing aid to the suffering population would mean we make some sacrifices both at the individual and the national level. This would mean foregoing happiness and pleasure. On the contrary, people are more inclined to joy and contentment and will not sacrifice their happiness despite being aware of the sufferings of other people.

The case of life-boat ethics can also demonstrate the difference between Kant's deontology and utilitarianism. The boat had four English sailors who were strained in a life safer boat for 24 days. At some point, they decided to kill the youngest member of the crew named Richard Parker and ate his flesh to survive. After they rescued, the three survivors were arrested and tried in court. One of the survivors became a state witness while the remaining two were tried. In their defense, they argued that they had fed off the body of the victim to survive (Sandel, 32). The act raised moral concerns. From Kant's perspective, the act was wrong even if it enabled three men to survive. Killing an individual to save the lives of other people disregards the value of human life. Therefore, such an act would not be universally accepted. On the other hand from the utilitarianism perspective, the act might be considered right. This is because although killing is morally wrong killing one person to save the lives of others may be right by killing one member of the crew three men survived by feeding on his body. Since the survivors had families, then it would be a loss if all the men died thus this justifies the killing of the youngest member of the crew who did not have a family, therefore, his death would not be a loss to many.

Complications in Applying the Deontology

Various difficulties can impact the application of Kant's deontology. The first complication is that the deontological approach to molarity does not consider the probable outcomes of an action. This is one factor that makes Utilitarianism more applicable. Lack of a defined path to ethics is another factor that makes it challenging to apply Kant's deontology. For instance, killing is considered to be morally wrong in many situations. However, in some situation killing would morally right for example when one kills to protect himself or herself thus violating the universality of this law.

In conclusion, Kant has a healthy regard for human life. Thus his approach to morals seeks to identify social value and dignity as the basis of morality. The rightness of an action depends on whether one fulfills his or her duty. Kant believed that what is moral is universal; thus it is agreed upon by everyone. However, the deontology has significant weaknesses that may hinder its application in many situations since it does not put into consideration the consequences of an action.

Works Cited

Sandel, M. "Justice: What is the right thing to do? Harvard University Press. p. 32-109. 2009.

Singer, P. "Famine, affluence, and morality."Spring. 1972. p. 229-243. 1972.

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