Phil Essay about Utilitarianism

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Project Description

Write an essay of three or four pages (minimum: 1000 words; maximum: 1200 words), answering the following question about Kant’s theory of morality:

Mill claims (Utilitarianism, p. 3 and p. 36) that Kant’s Universal Law Test is in the end nothing but an appeal to consequences. Using Kant’s example of a lying promise, evaluate Mill’s criticism. Was Kant, as Mill claimed, a closet utilitarian? In answering this question, you must compare Mill’s account of the wrongness of lying (pp. 15-16) to Kant’s.

You should structure your essay as follows:

(1) Beginwithaveryshortintroductoryparagraphthatexplainswhysomeoneshouldcareaboutthe topic you are about to write about.

(2) Attheendofthisintroductoryparagraph,youmustincludeathesissentence:asentencethat states whether Kant is a consequentialist or not.

a. Exampleofagoodthesissentences:“IwillarguethatMillisincorrectinhisclaimthat Kant is a consequentialist.”

b. Examplesofbadthesissentences:“IwillarguethatMillmakesaninterestingpointwhen he calls Kant a consequentialist”; “I will show that Mill and Kant disagree about whether Kant is a consequentialist.”

(3) ExplainKant’suniversallawtestargumentfortheclaimthatitismorallywrongtomakealying promise. This should be the longest single part of your paper: at least one page should be devoted to this task. Make sure to explain all of Kant’s terminology here (for instance, “maxim,” “imperative,” “universal law,” “contradiction in conception,” ...). Do NOT explain Kant’s other tests (the Formula of Humanity and the Formula of the Kingdom of Ends).

(4) ExplainMill’sobjectiontoKant’[url removed, login to view]’suniversallawtestargumentdoes Mill object to? What does Mill think Kant’s argument really amounts to? Here is where you may want to discuss Mill’s own argument against lying (p. 112).

(5) GiveyourreasonsforagreeingordisagreeingwithMill’[url removed, login to view] incorrect, explain where he is mistaken and explain how his argument against lying differs from Kant’s argument. If you think that Mill is correct, consider what Kant would say in return and respond to Kant.

The essay is due by 2:00 pm on Friday, November 22nd. You must BOTH submit your paper to Blackboard AND submit a paper copy to your tutor by the due date.

This is not a research paper, but a test of your ability to articulate and explain some arguments we have been looking at in class. It is neither expected nor particularly recommended that you look at any outside sources for help. If, however, you would like to read something about these arguments, you should get advice about what to look at.

In any case, anything (this includes, of course, anything found on the internet) you look at other than the assigned class reading must be listed in an attached bibliography. You must do this even if you believe that you did not learn anything from a particular source. If you do make use of an idea that you find by reading something, or by talking to someone, you must acknowledge this in a footnote. There is nothing at all wrong with getting help from others in any of these ways, but failure to acknowledge that you have done so is plagiarism and will be treated as such.

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