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Kantian and Utilitarian Ethics Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Jun 24th, 2019

A look at the way the society functions often shows that ethics play a critical role in balancing the developments in the ethical and economic realms of the society. Oscar Romero focused on moral and religious teachings, which had a resounding effect on the public and political discourse in Salvador.

Having ascended to the position of the Archbishop at the time when a civil war had broken up in Salvador, Romero was a key force in determining the fate and the identity of Salvador. The civil war in Salvador was largely fueled by economic forces, mainly the struggle for land, which later took other dimensions like the religious dimension.

As a religious leader, Romero made a substantial number of moral judgments that were favorable in restoring the identity of Salvador by way of propelling the Salvadorians towards promoting a course for social justice.

Romero asserted that, “I will not tire of declaring that if we really want an effective end to violence we must remove the violence that lies at the root of all violence: structural violence, social injustice, exclusion of citizens from the management of the country, repression” (Romero 2).

Here, it makes sense to bring in the observation by Immanuel Kant, who was very passionate about the subject of goodwill and enshrined in the actions of people.

Kant opines that, “further still; if nature has put little sympathy in the heart of this or that man; if he, supposed to be an upright man, is by temperament cold and indifferent to the sufferings of others” (Kant 196). Here, the most important thing to do is to assess whether Romero was sympathetic in his religious course.

Romero was articulate in the manner in which he looked at religion as a possible factor in uniting Salvador. This comes out in the assertion that, Romero valued the moral attribute of equality by insisting on the fact that men were equal to women and both had a role to play in the continuity of the society.

In other words, it can be argued that Romero was sympathetic to the people of Salvador, thus he decided to address the suffrage of the people of Salvador by helping them to promote a social course to address their own social problems.

It is through this doctrine that most of the issues regarding the conflict over land in Salvador were solved. The likening of the historical suffering of the people of Salvador to the suffering of Christ was a critical step in fueling the search for equality and identity of the people of Salvador.

Perhaps, it is more meaningful to bring in the argument about moral course as promoted by John Stuart Mill on moral course through the principle of utilitarianism.

It is also worth bringing in the observation that, “utilitarianism, therefore, could only attain its end by the general cultivation of nobleness of character, even if each individual were only benefited by the nobleness of others, and his own, so far as happiness is concerned, were a sheer deduction from the benefit” (Mills 234).

According to the works of Romero, it eludes a lot of confidence to conclude that Romero maintains a noble character not only on his part, but also on the part of the Salvadorians for whom he seeks justice and a social course. Though it takes place through a intense social course, it has desirable intentions of promoting a just society.

A look at the ethical works by Romero denotes the embrace of what can be termed as liberation theology. The question that ought to be answered at this point is how the actions and practices that were embraced by Romero can be likened to the utilitarian philosophy as embraced by Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill.

Utilitarianism is a philosophy that alleges that people are supposed to embrace actions that maximize happiness over pain. One critical observation that was made by Kant is that the maximization of utility is highly required because it promotes the well-being of people in the society.

However, in a similar sense, Kant observes that there are certain circumstances where the maximization of utility is undesirable as it contributes to human suffering. Turning back to the works and activities of Romero, it is apparent that Romero was a utilitarian philosopher in the sense that he supported a cause whose aim was to enhance the identity of the people of Salvador.

The worth of men is derived from freedom, which is the key characteristic as far as differentiating man from other creatures is concerned. However, the other critical concern that was raised by Kant is the manner in which freedom is attained by human beings, which in turn promotes the happiness of people.

This is an important point because a lot of people desire and press for freedom without considering the level at which the paths that they pursue promote the well-being or the happiness of other people. What comes into the mind at this point is whether the paths that were used by Romero to attain happiness for the people of Salvador embraced a course of justice for all people in the society.

The most intriguing thing is that Kant is seen as mounting opposition to utilitarianism because he sees it as a moral principle that pays more attention to the outcomes of actions, devoid of paying attention to the morality that lies in the paths that are used to gain happiness.

Based on the argument by Kant about the need to embrace morality in the practices that are supposed to result in happiness, it is imperative to note that the vision of good living conditions in Salvador as embedded in the social and religious course of Romero paid a lot of attention to the minimization of actions that could result in harming the society.

Romero was quite attentive to the observation of morality in the course that he promoted. Here, it makes sense to conclude that Romero kept his actions within the confines of order in the sense that he did not want to see anybody harmed through the cause that he was promoting in Salvador.

As one of the liberal thinkers of the 19th century, John Stuart Mills brings in the concept of maximizing welfare as the desirable end result of the actions of people in the society.

Mill was very articulate on the issue of moral motivation when it comes to the maximization of the welfare of the people. When speaking of welfare, it makes sense to observe that Romero was one of the people who pushed for a social cause that sought to promote the welfare of the people in Salvador.

Works Cited

Kant, Immanuel. “Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals.” In Gordon, Marino D. Ethics: The Essential Writings. New York: Modern Library, 2010. Print.

Mill, John Stuart. “Utilitarianism.” In Gordon, Marino D. Ethics: The Essential Writings. New York: Modern Library, 2010. Print.

Romero, Oscar. Archbishop Oscar Romero. Web.

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