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Kant’s and Mill’s Philosophies

According to Kant, the only thing in the world that can be said to be good is good will itself. All other qualities such as intelligence, wealth, honor, decisiveness, and courage are admired by many only when they are used with good intentions. However, when the intention or the will to use them is not rooted in the good they can become very destructive and harmful to others. Therefore, the only good thing in the world and beyond is good will itself, this cannot be compromised. A will refers to the intentions or driving force behind one’s actions. Therefore, one can refer to the will as the driving force that leads one to do certain things whether they are good or evil. Without a will, one cannot do any action since he or she will be lacking the motivation to do it. A maxim refers to the general principle that directs one’s will. Thus, a maxim dictates the principles that one follows whether they are acceptable to all people or not. For instance, one can have a maxim that directs him or her to increase or accrue wealth only through safe means and to shun away all other unethical means of wealth creation. The principle of action that directs an individual’s actions is his or her maxim (Cahn, 2016).Kant’s and Mill’s Philosophies

To Kant, intentions is more important than the consequences. Kant does not look at the consequences of an action as being the most important factor but the intentions of an action carry all the weight. This lies in the fact that, the consequences of an action might be positive even when the will or intention of the action was negative. For instance, a drunk driver arriving home without an incident has positive consequences but the decision to drive while drank was morally wrong. Kant emphasizes that the intention of action is supreme and overrides the consequences. There are instances where good intentions lead to bad consequences but that does not disqualify them since the intentions were morally worth. Kant requires one to look at the intentions of an action and not the consequences to determine its moral worth.  The phrase that Kant uses to describe categorical imperative is, “act only on that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” (Cahn, 2016). Categorical imperative is not dictated by one’s desires but it is selfless in itself and is done as a duty. Thus, categorical imperative can be useful in deciding which acts are motivated by good will since it shows acts that are done with good intentions. The commanding factor behind categorical imperative is not driven by one’s desires. Therefore, the act can be said to be selfless and done with good intentions and can be classified as morally worth. To will that one’s maxim becomes a universal law means to act in accordance to the maxim that one would wish all other rational people would strictly follow. As such, the maxim becomes the commanding factor upon which all other people follow and if it is found on good will then it will be approved and followed by others.

Kant uses the phrase, “How would things stand if my maxim became a universal law?” to determine whether a maxim can serve as a universal law. The difference between means and end is that means refers to the method or channel used to attain something. On the other hand, end refers the desired result or goal of doing something. Hence, means is a channel of doing something and the end is the results or the goal to be achieved by certain actions. Kant wants human to be treated always as end and not merely as a means. This is because treating humans as a means is disrespectful and humans as rational beings need to be treated with respect. In summary, Kant says it important to treat the humanity whether in one’s person or in another’s as an end and not just as merely a mean (Cahn, 2016). Kant’s and Mill’s Philosophies

According to Mill, consequences are more important than intentions. To Mill, actions should be judged according to the results that they give out. This is because it is hard to read or know another person’s intentions for doing something. The intentions whether good or evil are unknown to other people and only consequences of such actions are visible and can be examined by others. To measure the moral worth of action, one has to look at the great well-being or happiness the action generates. Mill defines happiness as pleasures and lack of pain. Mill has a hierarchy of pleasures and some pleasures are highly ranked than others. The ranking of pleasures depends on their worthwhile since some pleasures are more desirable and valuable in comparison to others. Higher-quality pleasures are ranked above lower-quality pleasures (Cahn, 2016). Pleasures are ranked into these two categories because they generate different level of pleasures. The higher-quality pleasures are preferred by people over the lower-quality pleasures even when the lower-quality pleasures come in large amount. When considering happiness, Mill does not think that personal happiness should be ranked above overall happiness. This is because according to utilitarian theory, which Mill postulates, the overall happiness supersedes personal happiness. All the participants are supposed to be treated equally as the agent. The agent is supposed to be neutral and impartial when determining which action generates more happiness and he or she should not choose an action because that is what makes him or her happy. The happiness of all the people should be considered rather than the private happiness generated by the action.Kant’s and Mill’s Philosophies

Patrick’s conversation with Remy in the hospital parking lot exemplifies his Kantian thinking because he feels that he did something wrong in killing Corwin Earle. It shows that his intentions for killing were not based on good will even though Remy perceives the consequences of his action as positive. When he killed Corwin Earle, his conscience told him he had done something wrong because he had killed another person. This is what drives him to say murder is a sin  despite Remy trying to comfort him by saying it depends on who you do it to . Patrick perceives his action as being morally wrong, as murder will remain murder regardless of who has been killed. This is a case of where two wrongs do not make a right. As Kant put it, whether the consequences of one’s action are positive or not, what matters is the motivation to do the action. In this case, Patrick’s motivation was the need to revenge against those people he thought were kidnapping children. He ended up killing a child molester because of so much anger and feeling frustrated. After thinking about his actions, he feels guilty since his intentions were not of good will and he considers himself to have sinned because of committing murder (Affleck, 2019).
Patrick’s decision to return the child to her mother exemplifies Kant’s thinking in that his action was guided by good intentions. He was motivated by good intentions to return Amanda to her mother, which was to unite mother and daughter. He understood the pain that the mother was going through and as such, he made a promise to return Amanda once they found her. Even though the mother uses drugs and works as a mule, she has a right to have her kid as long as she takes good care of the child. It is clear that Patrick was only interested in seeing the child rescued and reunited with her mother and his action is a reflection of Kant’s thinking: to have good intentions when doing something.Kant’s and Mill’s Philosophies

There are also some other scenes in the video that shows Patrick’s thinking to be inherently Kantian in nature. For instance, when he goes to the bar he had good intentions of trying to find information that was helpful in tracing Amanda, but he ended up being involved in a fight and exchanging insults. His motivation to go to the bar was based on good will but the consequence of going there was knocking someone to the ground with his gun. Another scenario that shows Patrick thinking like Kant is when he decides to give Cheese the money in exchange for Amanda. The decision to give Cheese the money in return for Amanda is based on good will since Patrick puts Amanda’s safety as well as her mother’s interest first. Even though the money could be used to commit crimes, the pure noble intentions of exchanging it for Amanda shows he is thinking like Kant.Kant’s Philosophies

Mill shows himself thinking in utilitarian way in several occasions. To begin with, at Ray’s backyard he thinks about the consequences of Cheese opening a bag and finds it is full of newspapers. He knows the consequences will be to kill Amanda and like Mill, he does not want this to happen. Here we can see that Remy is thinking about the consequences of certain actions and not the intentions of doing those actions. Another scene that shows Remy thinking in utilitarian way was when he colluded with Lionel to take Amanda away from her mother. To come to this decision, Remy knew that Amanda would be better off when she is away from her mother who uses drugs. This was the second time Remy had done this, the first time being when he planted drugs to a father who had neglected his child. He believed the child would be better off without the father. In Amanda’s scenario, he considered not only the well-being of Amanda’s mother, Helene, but also that of her uncle and aunt. He conspired to make a decision that would make most people happy (Affleck, 2019).

In general, I believe Patrick’s action are plausible. Following what Kant advocates, we can see he is a man driven by good intentions. For example, finding Amanda and the boy who was also kidnapped. He does not act because he wants fame but he is determined to help people. However, I disagree with his decision to return Amanda to Helene, her mother. His actions though from good intentions does not auger well for Amanda. Even courts do not allow parents who are drug addicts to take care of their children since this jeopardizes the lives of such children. This is where one sees the weakness of Kant’s philosophy. It does not consider the repercussions but just the motive for doing something. The strength lies in that one is always left with a clear conscience since he or she knows that they did what was right even though the consequences could be negative.Kant’s and Mill’s Philosophies

Overall, I think Remy decisions were based on Mill’s philosophy. He made decisions after thinking about the consequences. In the case of the young boy he was talk about with Patrick, he knew he would be happier away from his dad. Same case to Amanda, where he believed she would be happier away from her mother. However, there were instances where his decisions were also guided by ill motives for instance when he considered taking the money in the case of Amanda. Even though he wanted Amanda to be rescued from her careless mother, he also saw another angle where he could make money from this case. The consequences of which resulted to the death of Ray. Mill is right that happiness is what matters at the end. People always try to do things that would make them happy. Everyone wants to be happy and is willing to do anything to achieve this happiness. I think Mill is right that consequences matter than the intentions. This is because for every action there will be consequences that people will have to live with. Therefore, whether the consequences are positive or negative, some people will either suffer or be happy because of them. Remy’s decision to take Amanda away from her mother was morally correct. Helene was a drug addict and mule and at times used to take Amanda with her when she selling or using drugs. If a child grows up in such an environment, there is high possibility she would end up doing the same business as the mother and end being a drug addict herself. To prevent this, it was morally correct to separate Amanda from her mother. This would have made her happier and she would have avoided falling into the same drug pit that her mother was in. This decision was also favorable for her aunt and uncle who used to act as her parents and were more concerned about her than the mother was. When using utilitarian one should not just consider his or her happiness but happiness of others and in this case, the happiness of other people overrode the happiness of Helene.Kant’s and Mill’s Philosophies

 

References

Affleck, B. (2019). Gone Baby Gone [Film]. Hollywood.

Cahn, S. (2016). Exploring Ethics – An Introductory Anthology (4th ed., pp. 102-130).