A Discussion of Kant’s Moral Philosophy
The benefit of a moral theory that is applicable in all situations and does not change depending on the circumstances is clearly appealing. Immanuel Kant lays provides such a moral philosophy in “Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.” Kant’s main arguments are born of reason, not of experience and center on the idea that moral principles should be applicable in all situations. Because of this, Kant’s moral theory may seem rigid and unfeeling to modern readers. In some respects, Kant’s theories are persuasive because they provide a comprehensive guide to morality in any given situation. However, some of Kant’s theories are incompatible with the complex modern world we live in. This paper will review the central principles and terms of Kant’s moral philosophy, and offer both support and criticism.
Two key concepts to understand in Kant’s main argument is his idea of the “good will” and of moral duty (Kant, Wood, and Schneewind, p. 9). According to Kant, the good will is the only thing in this world that is good in all situations. For example, Kant points out there are many forces in the world that can be used either for good or for evil, such as money, power, and intelligence. Unlike these examples, the good will is “good not through what it effects or accomplishes, not through its efficacy for attaining any intended end, but only through its willing, i.e., good in itself” (p. 10). In saying this, Kant states that the good will depends not on outcomes, but on the intent behind an action. The good will is moral because it is a pure intention, not because of any outcome it produces. Kant uses this concept of the good will to assess the morality of an ...
... middle of paper ...
... may be able to rationalize this decision, it is counterintuitive to our natural instincts. Most people would agree that lying to save an innocent’s life is more moral than knowingly endangering someone just to maintain the universality of a moral law. Although Kant’s intent in regards to universalization was to discourage the idea of special privileges, the uncompromising nature of his maxim principle is limiting in the context of complex questions of morality.
Kant’s theories have two main appeals: the universality and broad applications of his philosophies. Since Kant’s idea of a moral law is one that remains consistent in every circumstance, it is a very comprehensive moral guide. Nevertheless, Kant’s moral philosophy has a few weaknesses. His rigid ideology has two main drawbacks: a lack of emotionality and difficulties in adapting to complex situations.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) grew up in a pietistic Lutheran family of modest means in a German-speaking region now part of Russia. He responded to the religious pressure he experienced at school as a boy by immersing himself in study and reading of early Latin writings. At the age of sixteen he began university studies in mathematics, physics, theology, and philosophy. II. Synopsis Kant’s preface opens with a discussion of the difference between physics, ethics and logic, the latter of which Kant views as “formal philosophy” in contrast with physics and ethics, which he calls “material philosophy.” Physics, Kant describes as dealing with how the world works, whereas ethics deals with how it ou... [tags: Immanuel Kant, Morality, Philosophy]
1202 words (3.4 pages)
- ... What I enjoy most about his discussion within good will is that it can go with everyday life. Although aspects of everyday life may be considered good in one individual’s eyes it does not mean that it is necessarily good for them or for anyone for that matter. Once you look further into something you realize that it comes out to be inferior. For example, the idea of wealth is great and if used correctly it can take people above and beyond in life allowing them to be successful but at the same time if wealth is in the wrong hands it can become corrupt and no longer a benefit to human society.... [tags: Immanuel Kant, Morality, Ethics]
875 words (2.5 pages)
- An Exposition of Kant’s, Arendt’s, and Mill’s Moral Philosophy Immanuel Kant adheres to Deontological ethics. His theory offers a view of morality based on the principle of good will and duty. According to him, people can perform good actions solely by good intentions without any considerations to consequences. In addition, one must follow the laws and the categorical imperative in order to act in accordance with and from duty. Several other philosophers such as Hannah Arendt discuss Kant’s moral philosophy.... [tags: Deontological Ethics, Good Will]
2793 words (8 pages)
- I hate philosophy. Now hate is a fairly strong term and philosophy is an extremely broad field of study with various beliefs and theories. To be more specific, I despise taking philosophy courses. The first philosophy class that I ever encountered was a combination of philosophy and sociology. Although it relied heavily on sociological aspects and theories, we spent about one hour during a three hour class period discussing philosophical theories. In that one hour, I learned that I despise philosophy courses.... [tags: Philosophy, Ethics, Immanuel Kant, Morality]
1794 words (5.1 pages)
- One constant between all cultures is the understanding that all lives will come to an end. Throughout one’s lifetime, virtue, character, and morality are sought, through different ideals and methods, with the overall endgame being the most ethical and desirable outcome possible. There are times, however, when an individual may feel like there is no hope of reaching a successful existence; therefore the act of suicide becomes a viable option. The decision to voluntarily take one’s life has always been a topic of discussion on ethical grounds.... [tags: Morality, Ethics, Immanuel Kant, Philosophy]
901 words (2.6 pages)
- ... Categorical imperatives, however, are ends in of itself. He says that actions are only good if they are carried out "just because," which would be a categorical imperative. However, he argues that actions are usually not assumed for the sake of duty alone but because of some self-interest, which forces them to act out that action where they wouldn't have otherwise. This is evident when Kant states that "in fact, there is absolutely no possibility by means of experience to make out with complete certainty a single case in which the maxim of an action that may in other respects conform with duty has rested solely on moral grounds" (Kant, 19).... [tags: philosophy, actions, moral values]
1151 words (3.3 pages)
- Discussion of Philosophy Alberto describes the Cynics, who believed that happiness had nothing to do with material goods. The Stoics, who came after the Cynics, believed that there was a universal natural law that "governed all mankind." They felt that we are all part of the same nature.... [tags: Papers]
895 words (2.6 pages)
- The concept of liberty was reestablished around the 17th century in the line of Modern Philosophy with John Locke as the father of such thinking. With “Natural Law” and the “Social Contract” as the foundation that expound individual rights, the extent of power and purpose of the government, the rule of law and the separation of powers, etc., he establishes the basis for early classical theory on liberty thinking. In the history of Western philosophy, some thinkers are just as crucial as Locke. Rousseau and Kant are two of the most outstanding figures: one being a forerunner during the French Revolution, and one being the pioneer of classical German philosophy; they both were celebrated for t... [tags: Political philosophy, Philosophy]
1201 words (3.4 pages)
- ... That being said, Hume can be seen to be taking the position that morals are in fact produced primarily by our emotional responses, which leads him to the conclusion that each individual has a moral sense or in Hume’s terms, a sentiment, passion, or feeling, which guides his or her morality. Furthermore, while Hume does not completely disregard reason by maintaining that, from a rationalist point of view, reason is needed to discover the facts of any substantial situation and the general social impact of a character trait or a practice over time, he upholds that reason alone is insufficient to yield a judgment that something is virtuous or vicious.... [tags: Morality, Ethics, Philosophy, Immanuel Kant]
1486 words (4.2 pages)
- Jenna Clifford is sixteen-years-old living in Nashville, Tennessee. Her best friend, sixteen-year-old Calvin Bass has been suffering from depression and anxiety due to his body image. Calvin has refused to seek for help and attend therapy sessions. Jenna has noticed that Calvin’s mother, Mrs. Bass, a single mother has taken the problems into her own hands, and has been given Calvin un-prescribed medicine (Marijuana) she believes would help him. This leaves Calvin with extreme side effects as it worsens his depression.... [tags: Morality, Ethics, Immanuel Kant, Philosophy]
1177 words (3.4 pages)