Kant¡¯s Moral Theory
I think Kant¡¯s Moral theory is one complement to the Utilitarianism because one deficit of Utilitarianism is it is sometimes impossible to foresee the consequences, and Kant brought up that ¡°the consequences of our acts are not always in our control and things do not always turn out as we want¡±. However, he believed that we can control our motives, and the ¡°motive
to do what is right¡± gives an act its moral worth.
The second belief Kant holds is ¡°people ought not to be used, but ought to be regarded as having the highest intrinsic value
¡±. My understanding here is Kant believe that the intrinsic value of an act determines what is morally right or morally wrong. The intrinsic value always accompanies the act, for example, if A is intrinsic to B, then it is no accident that B exhibits A.
For actions to have moral worth, ¡°good will¡± and good act (in accordance with duty) are required. Kant believed that the ¡°good will¡± is the right motive. Good will is to will your maxim to be a universal law or universally valid and accepted. ¡°Having a right intention is to do what is right (or what one believes to be right) just because it is right¡±. Kant believed that acts done from the motive of duty are the only ones with moral worth. For example, you borrow money from a friend, and your options, or maxims, are to either return the money, or not to return the money. To return money is of good will, and if you choose this to be your maxim, you are in accordance with duty. Not to return money, if put into a universal law, nobody ever returned the money, and everybody broke their promises, there would be no promises, and the act is not in accordance with duty. So the act of not returning the money has no moral worth and is morally wrong.
There are two different types of imperatives
, according to Kant, hypothetical imperative and categorical imperative. ¡°an imperative is simply a form of statement that tells us to do something¡±. Hypothetical imperative is conditional and represents an action that is good and necessary as a means to further results. It can be expressed as ¡°if I want to ¡, then I ought to ¡¡±. For example, if you don¡¯t want to get sick, then you ought to wash your hands carefully. You wash your hands because you don¡¯t want to get sick, and not because the act that washing your hands itself is good or not.
A Conditional Imperative is unconditional and ¡°applies to all persons as personas rather than to persons as individuals¡±, and it represents and action that is necessary and good in itself without any regards to further consequences. There are two forms of categorical imperatives, the first one is ¡°act only on that maxim that you can will as a universal law¡±. In another word, whether I decide to do this thing or not is decided by whether I can will or accept that all people do it. For example, if I considered drunk driving, I will consider first that if I want other people do it or not. Because other people drunk driving can cause harm to me, so I decide not to drunk driving. The second form of categorical imperative is ¡°always treat humanity, whether in your own person or that of another, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end. ¡° We should treat people as a person, not as a tool for us to use. This form tells what is the proper treatment of persons as persons. For example, borrowing money from friends and not telling him or her truth that you cannot pay it back is a violation of the requirement not to use persons.