What are the similarities and differences of the ethical theories of Aristotle and Immanuel Kant?
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Aristotle and Immanuel Kant are similar in their aapproaches to ethics in so far as they both admire reason or rationality. Also, their ethics, although admitting of the existence of a deity, are, to a large degree, secular, in the sense that though a deity is posited in both, divine revelation or Scriptural texts are not significant starting points for their ethical theories.
The first main difference is that Aristotle creates a form of virtue ethics in which the highest goal is eudaimonia (living well or thriving). Kant, on the other hand, creates a deontological ethics in which the highest good is acting according to a sense of duty alone and following absolute principles.
There are several similarities and differences in the ethical theories of Aristotle and Kant as will be highlighted below.
- Both believe that morality is achieved by actions which seek the highest good
- Both believe that reason should be employed in determining actions
- Both believe that some actions are intrinsically evil
- According to Kant, consequences of an action are irrelevant in determining whether an action is moral or not where as Aristotle asserts that we can face consequences of voluntary actions
- For Aristotle, the highest good is happiness which is achieved through virtuous actions whereas Kant believes that good will is the only virtue and is achieved through duty
- For Kant, morality is defined by the performance of one’s duties compared to Aristotle who asserts that morality is determined by virtuous actions
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