Racism is a belief that every member of a given race possesses qualities and abilities that are specific to that particular race. This distinction is made as means through which that race is depicted as being superior or inferior to another race, or even races. It mainly entails thoughts and practices that are used in a manner, seeking to justify and, or, promote the imbalanced distribution of rights or civil liberties amongst various existing racial groups. Racism has been considered among the world’s most widespread ways through which human beings look down upon one another, simply because of the differences in color of their skin. All through the history of human beings, the most prevalent form of racial discrimination, existing from the colonial era, is the white-black racial discrimination. The concept and practice of racism are philosophically unethical from both the teleological explanations by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart and deontological philosophies by Immanuel Kant.
The teleological philosophy is a principle of morality that seeks to derive moral obligations from something that is being desired as an end to be accomplished. From this definition of the teleological school of thought, one learns that the issue of morality is primary to the attainment of any positive or good goals. It is from the outcome of any action that one is then able to determine whether that action is ethically upright or not. If an act, therefore, leads to a positive outcome, it is always assumed by teleological philosophers as being morally correct (Bentham, 2007). If such an act, consequently, results in a negative consequence, it will then be considered as unethical. In the deontological perspective, the main focus in the determination of whether a certain act or inaction is ethically upright or wrong is done through the use of a duty relation. In such a case, where there is employment of moral obligations as factors that are self-evident, there is no need to explore or justify the act further. This takes place in cases where the acts themselves have intrinsic value. In the deontological assumption, evaluation of moral is based on the aspects of inherent rightness or wrongness, rather than on goodness. It also does not employ the reasoning that is used in the teleological assumptions that rely on the outcomes of the actions that are being considered.
According to the teleological philosophy of Jeremy Bentham, the value and ethical consideration of any actions should be based on its consequences. This was illustrative of his utilitarian views. The consequences of any action entail the overall happiness that is established for every person affected by such action (Bentham, 2009). Bentham’s philosophy was founded upon the empiricist character of human beings. The main feature of his philosophy was the hedonistic explanation of both motivation and value, in terms of pain and pleasure principle. Bentham’s perception of happiness is, therefore, the experience of pleasure with the lack of pain in such a situation (Bentham, 2007).
Racism, according to Jeremy Bentham, is not an issue that should be regarded as being philosophically ethical. It should, therefore, be done away with. Racism ought to be afforded any basis due to its unethical nature. Moral character of human beings, regardless of their skin color, does not entitle any person to impose any kind of hurt upon their fellow human beings (Bentham, 2009). If their actions affect the happiness of other people, there is no need to consider the actions as philosophically ethical. In this light, racism is in contrast with the happiness requirements by Jeremy Bentham (Bentham, 2007). Racism, in itself, exposes human beings to various inhumane treatments. People who are held as victims of racism do not live in the natural freedom that they ate entitled to. Some of them live in the fear that they may face threats to their lives (Harvey, 2007). Racism imposes various attitudes in people, such as increase in hatred for people of other races. In the spirit of the beliefs held by Bentham, no matter what a person does, they are all human beings, predisposed to the hedonistic concept of pain and pleasure.
In the hedonistic approach to the motivation and value of happiness for human beings, people are considered to move towards the attainment of happiness through actions that keep them away from pain. They do their best to avoid situations that would bring pain to them. In this case, racism would only be sufficiently warranted in the event that it produces more benefit, compared to harm. Since it does not result in any benefits for society and individual people, as recorded through history and by various other studies, racism has no philosophically ethical basis. It promotes many biases against different people from different races (Bentham, 2007). For instance, in the history of the United States, it can be seen that, in the spirit of white superiority, African Americans were deprived of their rights and other liberties. They went through torturous acts and persecution simply because of their different skin color, as compared to the white individuals (Harvey, 2007). It is in this sense that Bentham would regard racism as philosophically unethical practices. It should, therefore, be shunned by every person, as it veers away from the general happiness of the society they live in.
According to John Stuart Mill’s philosophical thoughts, racism is not a philosophically ethical matter. Mill also majors in on the consequences of different actions by human beings. His utilitarian explanation of the moral aspects of a person’s actions is quite similar to that of Jeremy Bentham. The only deviation that John Stuart Mill makes is the rejection of the notion by Bentham that human beings are motivated by the hedonistic characteristics of pain and pleasure. Mill, instead, held the belief that human nature bears a desire of perfection and sympathy for their fellow human beings (Ten, 2008). In this sense, Mill believes that people have the capability to improve.
In this light, racism has no ethical standing, as it is a violation and inhibition of happiness in the lives of people. Racism has resulted in deaths of many people and even in physical and psychological harm upon the victims. This works against a society that is characterized by the need to maintain happiness (Harvey, 2007). Furthermore, racism is against Mill’s belief that human beings possess the desire for perfection and sympathy for other people (Ten, 2008). Racism is, in itself, a dent in the society and it needs to be straightened out by elimination to attain such perfection. In addition, racism is not demonstrative of the notion that people sympathize for each other. It, in fact, contradicts with this belief.
According to the deontological account by Immanuel Kant in his universal moral law, the ethical form of an act should not be based on the use of its consequences. Rather, people should always appreciate and act in ways that form the basis of their ethical judgments (Wood, 2007). To Kant, true ethical conduct ought not to be dependent on the individual preferences and aversions. It should also not be founded upon the capabilities and opportunities that are available to the different people in society (Rayman, 2012). Instead, the true ethical consideration of any action by a person should be done in a manner that seeks to establish the belief or will of a particular person that the tenets of their actions should be viewed as a universal law. In addition to this, Immanuel Kant also believed that the actions of people should always treat humankind as the ultimate end and never simply as the means to the attainment of a particular goal (Rayman, 2012). This should be done in both the interest and actions of one person or another. In this view by Kant, there is a dire need that the principles of morality be made universal and apply to every person in a similar fashion. Kant also calls for a need to establish a fundamental distinction between people and things, while emphasizing that, as human beings, it is essential to respect other people.
From the views of Immanuel Kant, racism is simply philosophically unethical. This is due to the fact that it represents the interests of one group of people against another. People have always had a tendency to rely on such issues as racist activities and attitudes to spread their sentiments regarding other races or their activities. They have even resorted to the use of these other persons to gain individual advantage without taking the interests of these groups into consideration. Life is meant for living in a manner that is consistent with the continuity of humanity (Wood, 2007). If this is not implemented by people, then there is bound to be a negative force within society that would likely pull it to destruction. It, therefore, becomes the duty of every person to make sure that any actions that threaten the existence or quality of life of people is done away with. Racism is in no way consistent with any view by Kant regarding the need to respect one another (Wood, 2007). It degrades a person to an almost valueless person, simply because of another person’s arrogance or selfish attitude.
In addition to this, racism has always been condemned all over the world. It is of no significance that a person derives a large aspect of good outcomes from racially discriminative actions. As long as racist acts are categorized as those that seek to promote the individual self over the universality of the human interests, while degrading the individual human being or groups simply due to their skin color, there will never be any philosophically ethical basis for the acts and practice of racism. Racism will just never be right.
Racism is philosophically unethical from both teleological explanations by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart and deontological philosophies by Immanuel Kant. From the teleological aspect, the acts of racism would only be considered philosophical in the event that it resulted in positive results. Since racism only brings about negative outcomes, such as the degradation of other human beings, the positive nature and happiness of society is negatively affected. Also, according to Jeremy Bentham, the main source of happiness is pleasure. Racism imposes pain and, therefore, causes unhappiness. For John Stuart Mill, just like Bentham, the morality of an action is exemplified by its consequences. He believes that human beings possess the desire for perfection and sympathy for other people. Racism affects this perfection, as people tend to suffer under racist ideals. With such suffering, racism contradicts human sympathy belief by Mill. This makes racism an act that is philosophically unethical. From the views of Immanuel Kant, the moral aspects of an act are determined by their independence from the preferences and dislikes of the person. The main determination of any act, as being morally upright, is dependent on the action’s moral principles of universality and the respect for other people. In all these ways, racism fails to meet the qualifications of philosophical morality.