Kant and Millís Theories


Maritza Pelaez


Philosophy 213 (Ethics)


Spring 04, Section 1


Paper Assignment #1


Kant and Millís Theories


In July of 1994, a disturbing case arose in regards to a man who murdered an abortion performing doctor. Paul J. Hill, a former Presbyterian minister, and later a strong activist in the pro-choicelife movementactivist, was prosecuted for shooting and killing, Dr. John Britton, an abortion performing doctor, and James Barrett, a clinic volunteer, James Barrett outside athe cityís clinic in Pensacola, Florida clinic. Prior to this, Hill commented on the murder of Dr. David Gunn, another abortion performing doctor, stating that it was a ďbiblically justified homicide (P. 215).Ē In a previous incident, correlated to this one, This statement shows how strong Hillís beliefs were and leads one to assume that he did not regret killing Britton and Barrett. Hill approved of Dr. David Gunnís murder as ďbiblically justified homicide (P. 215).Ē With this said, it appears that Hill did not regret or had any remorse of killing Britton and Barrett. He believed what he did was the right and moral thing to do.


The task that stands before me in tThis paper will is to address this the Hill situationcase and determine the ethical parameter in which Paul Hill should have acted. The two philosophical approaches that I will be examined and contrasted in this situation, isare the Kantian and Utilitarian perspectives. Kantianism and Utilitarianism are two theories that attempt to answer the moral nature of human beings. In this paper, I will attempt to explain how and why the Kantian and Utilitarian perspective differ in the Hill case. I will give the responses to what Kant and Millís point of view would say about on the actions of Paul J. Hill will be presented based on their theories. Was he either morally wrong or morally justified? Lastly, I will I will explainexplain why I agree and believe that Kantís theory provides a more plausible account of morality.


Kantianism and Utilitarianism are two theories that attempt to answer the moral nature of human beings. Immanuel Kantís had an interesting mo moralral system. It is based on a belief that the reason is the final authority for morality. John Stuart Millís moral system is based on the theory known as utilitarianism, which is based upon utility, or doing what produces the greatest happiness.


One of Kantíshis most lasting contributions to moral philosophy was his emphasis on the notion of respect for persons. He considers respect for persons (a.k.a the Kantian respect) to be the fundamental moral principle of ethical philosophy. His Kantianism premise is a deontological moral theory which claims that the right action in any given situation is determined by the categorical imperative, which he calls . Kant calls his Categorical Imperative, the Supreme Principle. This His notion through the categorical imperative differs with the hypothetical imperative. An imperative is a command, therefore ďit is a command that applies to all rational beings independent of their desires. It is a command that reason tells us to follow no matter what (P.31).Ē Kant considers this an objective law of reason and because it applies to all of us, he calls it a universal practical law for all rational beings. The hypothetical imperative, on the contrary, is a conditional command, which ďwe have reason to follow if (it)they serve(s) some desire of ours (P.31).Ē For example, if you want to achieve X, then you will do Y, . whereas with the categorical imperative, It presents the practical necessity of a possible action as a means to achieving something else which one desires. X has nothing to do with why you do Y.


Kantís categorical imperative is a tri-dynamic statement of philosophical thought. In order to determine the morality of the Hill case from Kantís perceptionperspective, it is vital to understand the se formulations that accompany the categorical imperative., but only the first and second is essential. Kant upheld systematic laws as the model of rational principles. A characteristic of systematic laws is that they are universal, such as the law that when heated, gas will expand. Kant thought that moral laws or principles must have universality to be rational. KantHe derives the categorical imperative out of the notion that we should be willing to adopt those moral