Groundwork of the metaphysics of morals. Compare and Contrast

The theories put forward, by Kant and Mill deal with the moral qualities of choices or actions. Although they are very different, none of the two theories shows concern in the virtue ethics on what really constitutes a good human being. However, Kant’s theory is much deontological. This means that it locates the moral worth associated with an action within the action itself. Therefore, the main concern is not in the consequences associated with the specific action. On a more specific note, Kant’s point of view is that it is possible to have one duty or rule, which can be categorized/ characterized as being the categorical imperative. He arrived at three different formulations pertaining to this imperative (Kant & Gregory, 1998).

The most fundamental formulation is that if it is impossible for all human beings to commit the same set or sets of actions, then concerned action is immoral. This means that if one is a liar, he is incapable of willing that every person lie because in this case the meaning of truth may end up becoming incomprehensible. As a result, any advantage, which obtained by use of lies, can end up getting lost. The second imperative is a different way of underlining the golden rule. It states that if one is unable to will (desire) that a different person commit the same action on one’s person, then the actual committing of the action or deciding mentally to do the same is an immoral endeavor.

On the other hand, we can take Mill as being more of a consequentialist. According to Mill, the outcomes determine the goodness of any action (Kant & Gregory, 1998). Kant is of the opinion that the good action is one, which is in line with our duty. This becomes known depending on the fact, which it apportions with the categorical imperative Mill’s beliefs make him a utilitarian. In his theory, goodness is located according to the happiness which it gives rise to. It is worth noting, however, that both philosophers are very passionately interested in personal liberty for all the concerned individuals.

Mill’s utilitarianism does not involve neither with the means nor with intentions. It is entirely with the results. Mill’s opinion was that all events’ outcomes could be measured by use of units, which he referred to as “utils.” The units can be used to determine the existent to which an action was utilitarian. Mill argued that the higher the number of “utils” associated with an action portrayed how good an action was. Critics have pointed out that utilitarianism is not concerned about coming with rules to set up some form of a “straw man.” On the part of Mill (1998), he argues that utilitarianism is some form of a crude caricature act. This is the version, which the philosophers appear to be acquainted with. Further, Daniel Dennett has argued that it is not possible to do the calculations, as required by the utilitarianism theory simply because the incidents do not sum up as a precise value in terms of utility.

Mill’s utilitarianism does not involve neither with the means nor with intentions. It is entirely with the results. He wishes to sideline himself from Kant by expressing that actions can lead to an outcome, but taking no credibility of the actions. On the other hand, Kant takes responsibility of the action. Eventually, the two theories show similar concern in the virtue ethics on what really constitutes a good human being.


Kant, I., & Gregory, M. J. (1998). Groundwork of the metaphysics of morals. Cambridge, U.K.:

Cambridge University Press.

Mill, J. S., & Crisp, R. (1998). Utilitarianism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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