Reading the Classical Theories of Morality we find ourselves discussing a set of three different views of morality:
1)The Utilitarianism Theory of John Stuart Mill,
2)The Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle, and
3)The Metaphysics of Morality of Immanuel Kant.
Mills theory of Utilitarianism is described as a creed that accepts utility as the foundation, the first principle of morals. The idea behind the Utilitarian’s view is that no action is intrinsically right or wrong, no person’s preferences/interest are greater than any other person’s, one cannot make calculations before acting, following “rules of thumb” will produce the best consequences, and that democratic and economic principles reflect Utilitarianism.
In a nutshell the ends justify the means. “Utilitarian’s believe that sentiment and feelings are at the root of morality.” (Arthur & Scalet, 2009). I feel that this would be a moral reasoning behind something that has major change following like the end result of a war where the war itself was full of decisions that ended in catastrophe but the end result was peace in war torn country. Aristotle theory of Nicomachean Ethics are based on the morals of a person entire life as a whole and not just the individual acts, so in retrospect everything you do from life until death would determine whether you were a moral person or not.
Aristotle theorized that there were “three types of life; one devoted to the sensual pleasures, one seeking out political interests, and the other being a life of thoughts.” (Arthur & Scalet, 2009). If you follow the teachings of Aristotle one might believe that the focus of morality is based on the scope of the human activity, the virtuous overall behavior that is better understood verses what singular actions that might be considered good. This idea of morality is roughly connected to the way a lot of religious denominations believe, that you live your life as a good person here and once you die your spirit/soul will stand before your given deity from whence you are judged based on how you lived your earthly life. If you are found worthy of living a godly life then you are rewarded with heavenly peace and/or riches.
Kant’s theory of the Metaphysics of Morality is based on the belief that actions are taken out of duty and obligation to a moral idea rather than just a situation at a particular time and that some actions are wrong and will forever be wrong. “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it would become a universal law” (Arthur & Scalet, 2009). There are three concepts to Kants morality theory: 1) the action is a sense of duty, 2) the action of being moral without caring what is perceived by the action, and 3) the understanding that duty is a necessary part of living in respect of laws. Much of Kant’s theory can be related too much of the world, we give and help because we feel that it is our duty and human nature to do so, and most of the time we do this without feeling like we need to be compensated for said actions.
Loeb, P. R. (2010). Soul of a citizen: Living with conviction in challenging times (Rev.ed.) New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin