George's Analysis Of George Kant From Duty In The Groundwork

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George’s situation is one that is undoubtedly complex. We have an agent who accepts a general principle and yet doesn’t act on it. George’s case doesn’t fit neatly with any of Kant’s examples from his discussion of “from duty” in the Groundwork, yet there may be just enough information provided to form some arguments and conclusions that both support and oppose the idea that George’s actions have moral worth. Before further contemplating George’s story it would be helpful to first provide an account of moral worth as it is according to Kant. Kant states that moral worth is the value of a good will in dutiful action. Dutiful actions done “from duty” have moral worth while dutiful actions that are merely “according to duty” have no moral…show more content…
Kant states in 4:399 in Section I of the Groundwork that to assure one’s happiness is a duty we all have. It is in these passages that George may find some redemption in terms of moral worth in his actions despite his belief that it is morally wrong for him to help others. It wouldn’t be so hard to imagine or suppose that helping his friend Arthur would provide George some degree of happiness. As Kant suggests, there is a law to promote his happiness but not from inclination but rather from duty. So it can be taken that George’s action to help Arthur, insofar as it provides him happiness, has proper moral worth despite the fact that he was raised to believe that it is morally wrong to ask for help when you are in need and wrong to provide help to others. Kant explains how this similarly applies to scripture, which commands us to love our neighbor. He says love as an inclination cannot be commanded but that generosity and good from duty is a “practical” love. It is this “practical” love that lies in the will rather than in feeling and lays principles of action rather than in what might be initially observed as sympathy on George’s part. Taking this to be true, George’s actions do not conflict with what he believes under these circumstances and his actions do indeed possess moral
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