Essay about Contrasting Kand and Hume on Morality

Essay about Contrasting Kand and Hume on Morality

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Morality is central to all rational beings, whereby a moral action is one determined by reason, rather than our personal desires as suggested by Kant (1785) in contrast to Hume. (1738). Furthermore, Kant suggests that an action is moral only on account of its being reasoned, therefore the moral worth of an action is determined by its motives and not by its consequences. Exploring the works of Hume (1738) and Kant(1785) on morality and ethics, we will ask the question whether we should do what is morally right, even when you could profit by doing something wrong, and furthermore, we shall discuss morality as a type of game, yet something you cannot opt out of, as something Foot describes as 'inescapable'. (Foot 1972: 311).

Morality and its standards are often assumed to be 'intrinsically' motivating, and this is how they regulate society's behaviour. (Prinz in Batson 2011:41). Yet Batson suggests rather than intrinsically motivating, we conform to the principles to avoid social and self-rewards, where we are viewed as morally good. Morality for Kant is determined by whether certain moral actions could be turned into a universal maxim. (Kant in Singer 1994). He argued that reason is the same at all times, and for all people, therefore morality should also be universal. In his works, Kant begins by arguing that the only virtue that can be good is a good will. Therefore, actions are only moral if the action could be described as a universal law, known as a categorical imperative. A maxim according to Kant is to act in a way that we would will the action to be a universal law, as opposed to the hypothetical imperative which demands that we act to achieve a certain ends.(Kant in Signer 1994). Therefore, we to act morally good, we sho...

... middle of paper ...

...nature and is a game we play, yet it has its own rules that we must abide by if we are to exist in a society. So why do what's morally right? Because it's our moral duty, even if this goes against our passions.


Batson, D., Thompson, E. (2001). Why Don't Moral People Act Morally?. Current Directions in Psychological.10 (1), 54-57.

Batson, D. (2011). What's Wrong With Morality?. Emotion Review. 3 (1), 230-236.

Foot, P. (1972). Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives. The Philosophical Review. 81 (1), 305-316.

Hume, D. (1994). Reason and Passion. In: Singer, P Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 118-123.

Kant, I. (1994). The Categorical Imperative. In: Singer, P Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 274-294.

Singer ,P. (1993). The Ultimate Choice. In: Singer, P How Are We To Live. New York: Prometheus Books. 1-21.

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