Essay about An Enquiry Concerning The Principles Of Morals

Essay about An Enquiry Concerning The Principles Of Morals

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In An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, David Hume explains that public utility is the foundation of the chief part of morals because we act on moral sentiments and passions and that we care about the outcome. However, in the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Immanuel Kant argues that good will is the only thing that is good without qualification because actions are taken only for the sake of duty and that the moral quality of an action is based solely on the motive that produced it. I strongly agree with Kant due to the fact that morality is based upon only good will because caring about the outcome doesn 't necessarily mean that the actions taken to bring that said outcome are moral. Furthermore, actions taken for the sake of duty alone are intrinsically moral because there is no ulterior motive or outcome desired.
The main basis for Hume’s argument about public utility, approbation from the general population or a desirable outcome, comes from the fact that reason doesn’t cause our actions but that we are actually motivated by our passions and sentiments. Hume also states that we must care about the outcome in order to care about how that said outcome is achieved. The basis for Hume’s claim that public utility is defined by our passions and sentiments comes from the statement that the outcome must be useful to many others for that said outcome to be virtuous. Hume states that the natural virtues such as compassion, generosity and friendship motivate us to act rather than reason. Hume explains how public utility is what determines an action, he says “And as the public utility of these virtues is the chief circumstance, whence they derive their merit, it follows, that at the end, which they have a tendency to p...


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...ere is considerable moral value. The man expects nothing in return and acts only on his good will for the sake of his duty to someone in need. The water company has greater public utility than the man who only affected one person but the morality of the man triumphs the water company because his actions are intrinsically moral unlike the water company who used immoral means to bring about usefulness.
In conclusion, Hume proposes that we act upon sentiments and that public utility is what drives moral action. Kant however argues that a good will is all that is needed for an action to have any significant moral value. Kant is correct in his statement because public utility doesn’t actually determine whether or not an action is moral. One’s good will is always moral because it is not affected by any ulterior motives or by any expected result. It is intrinsically good.

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