Re: Deontology v. Utilitarianism

In point of fact, deontological positions are based on
adherence and duty towards binding moral laws, and
thus do refer to previously binding codes and laws.
For instance, Kant's moral theory based on the
categorical imperative, moral obligation, and duty is
a deontological moral position. Utilitarianism, by
contrast, is an ethical position insofar as it does
not presuppose a previous and binding moral obligation
to which we are to conform. Rather, the the notion of
utility is arrived at by weighing what is thought to
be the greatest utility for all. In ethical theories,
the good is always referred to some other value such
as happiness, utility, aesthetic criterion in arriving
at its principles. Deontological positions treat the
moral law itself as the highest standard, and thus
reject the notion that it is based on some other
value. Thus, in Kant, the moral law does not refer to
the Good, but rather the good is good because it
conforms to the moral law. Moreover, we adhere to the
moral law out of respect for that law, and not because
we believe that desired consequences will follow from
it. For this reason, Kant was led to claim that
concerns about happiness and pleasure are secondary to
being moral and can even render our moral actions
suspect. Kant was driven so far in this consideration
that he claimed that ideally our actions cannot be
moral unless we don't enjoy submitting to the moral

Paul Bryant
Department of Philosophy
Loyola University of Chicago

--- thaddeus murawski <tmuraws1@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> I am under the impression that deontology is the
> absence of a prior fixed code
> and it requires us to make a code for ourselves. The
> ethical as opposed to the
> moral as Foucault distinguishes them. To escape the
> fixed code of utility and
> to take responsibility for our actions (our codes,
> our picture of the world)
> seems to me to be more in line with deontology.
> Ethics is the recognition that we contemplate
> eternity under the vast
> indifference of heaven (or any other Code written
> prior to our actions in the
> world).
> Ted
> Stuart Elden wrote:
> > Hi Greg
> >
> > A big question! That will keep people going for a
> while. I don't think there
> > is a simple answer, and this debate seems to be at
> the heart of moral
> > philosophy. I guess the deontological framework is
> justified because it
> > would set absolute codes of practice, moral norms
> such as the categorical
> > imperative of Kant, or the ten commandments, by
> which there is no grey area,
> > things are clear, motive is all, etc. But it's
> inflexible and good
> > intentions don't always lead to good outcomes.
> Utility tries to look at
> > whether things have good or bad consequences, and
> obviously suffers from the
> > difficulty of predicting outcomes. I hesitate to
> suggest one is better than
> > the other: they're both flawed. Someone like JS
> Mill, it seems to me, tries
> > to balance the two with the introduction of rule
> utilitarianism (as opposed
> > to Bentham's act) - that is you judge individual
> acts on their consequences
> > most of the time, but there are some basic
> principles (like the principal of
> > liberty) which have _generally_ good consequences,
> and therefore _ought_ to
> > be followed. There are problems with Mill too, but
> he's still very
> > influential.
> >
> > That's probably massively simplistic, but it might
> help.
> >
> > An example - Kosovo. Was NATO actually according
> to some notion of duty -
> > 'never again' - and did it have the desired
> effect? A debatable point,
> > surely.
> >
> > Stuart
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: owner-foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> >
> [mailto:owner-foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]On
> Behalf Of
> > TriscitMan@xxxxxxx
> > Sent: 01 March 2000 04:00
> > To: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> > Subject: Deontology v. Utilitarianism
> >
> > Hello all -
> >
> > What are some reasons to use a deontological
> framework to make policy over
> > that of a utility framework? Sorry is this is
> random, but i'm just confused
> > as to which would be the better framework.
> >
> > -Greg Cram
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