Difference Between Kantianism and Utilitarianism

Kantianism vs Utilitarianism

Those who are not students of philosophy, words like utilitarianism and Kantianism may sound alien, but for those who try to tackle questions of ethics and wisdom, these two represent important viewpoints. There are many similarities between utilitarianism and Kantianism that confuse some people. However, there are important differences between the two philosophies that will be outlined in this article.


This is a philosophy that believes that consequences of an action are responsible for people judging that action as morally right or wrong. Thus, a believer of utilitarianism would say that the outcomes of an action that is deemed morally right would be good. The theory says that people choose actions that help in maximizing happiness and at the same time remove misery, pain and agony. The worth of any human action depends upon its utility or value.


This is a philosophy put forward by Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher who was born in Prussia. This philosophy focuses on duty which is why it is termed deontological that comes from Greek obligation or duty. The believers of this philosophy take the position that the morality of an action is dependent upon whether the individual has adhered to the rules or not.

Kantianism vs Utilitarianism

• Attitude towards what is right or wrong is what constitutes the basic difference between utilitarianism and Kantianism.

• Utilitarianism says that an act is justified if maximum numbers of people are deriving happiness out of it. This simply means that the end justifies means. And that an act is justified if the end result is happiness for all.

• On the other hand, Kantianism says that the end does not justify means. Whatever we do inside our obligations is morally good.

• Lying is universally wrong and thus it is wrong in Kantianism too. However, under utilitarianism, lying is OK if it brings pleasure and happiness to most of the people.

• Modern democracies are all about utilitarianism as they aim to bring the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest number of people. Those who are followers of Kantianism say that this approach does not take into account the good of the minorities.

• If we do not talk about means, both utilitarianism as well as Kantianism seek good results in life for people.