Kant's Moral Principles In the Foundation of the Metaphysics of Morals, the author, Immanuel Kant, tries to form a base by rejecting all ethical theories that are connected to consequences, and then focusing on our ethical motivations and actions. Kant wants to derive good characters out of contingently right actions. He believes that everything is contingent (everything can have good or bad worth, depending on how it is used). So he is trying to find the supreme principal of morality in all his reasoning. Kant also believes that an action is right or wrong based solely on the reason by which it was performed.
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.
As rational beings we are expected to act and behave accordingly for the sake of the moral good, but with practical reason. This then results in universal morality according to Kant. This was all defined under Kant’s categorical imperative. These imperatives are things that one “ought” to do according to Kant. Kant believed that following ones duty was not measurable by the end means, yet it “is good only through its willing”.
Hypothetical imperatives are actions that look for the best means to a goal, however, the goal might not necessarily be an end in itself. On the other hand, the categorical imperative is an objectively necessary means to an end in itself, and the action to obtain the end, must have moral worth. If we as rational agents, have any morality at all Kant says, it takes the form of rational, categorical imperatives (commands of reason) and is found a priori excluding all interests and desires. These commands of reason are proven by the Universal Law Formula, which when applied, is a method for determining the morality of actions. How is this formula applied though?
Immanuel Kant, like his predecessors John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, believed morality was based on standards of rationality. His influential work, The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, argues for the existence of a “foundational principle of a metaphysics of morals”. 1 Such a principle, he asserts, must account for three propositions of morality: only actions done from duty have genuine moral worth, moral value arises from the maxim its action involves, not from the purpose that is to be achieved through it, and that a duty is an obligation to act in a specific manner out of respect for the law.2 Kant names this foundational principle the categorical imperative. Kant’s categorical imperative is a method of determining an action’s morality based on the action being objectively necessary, and is the first of two types of imperatives. Such an action is good in itself, not just as a means of achieving some other purpose.
This means that our actions are conscious driven and that our intentions are bounded in rationality to fulfill one’s duty. For Kant, morality should be necessary and universal (Kant, 2005: 49) He provides that actions must be universal and be based on a set of moral rules in order for them to be classified as moral or immoral. Reason is a main component of Kant’s argument of morality. Kant’s view of morality is premised on the notion of “good will,” which ultimately ensures that an act complies with moral principles (Kant, 2005: 18). An act will be deemed good depending on the motive or intention behind the act.
On the other hand and in contrast, “a priori” concepts are ideas we reach as an end point of reasoning prior to or apart from any experience of how things occur in the world. Kant then claims that moral actions are supposed done for the reason of morality alone. This train of thought leads to the conclusion that an understanding of morality must be based on “a priori” concepts of reason. Truly moral ideas are then universally valid if and only if they are based on “a priori” concepts. From this idea of “a priori” concepts, Kant begins his thesis with the notion that the only thing in the world that is a qualified good is the “good will”, even if its efforts bring about a not necessarily good result.
According to formula two of Kant’s argument, good will is guided by reason. We should follow our own good will in order to gain talents to then help others. Our own good will cannot come from a gut feeling, we should consider our own obligations that Kant has set for us in order to reach our own happiness. We should act to use humanity by not using other people in order to get their means because that is immortal. It is our ability to make our own choices and be rational with the intention of creating good will.
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).
Therefore, Kant believes that duty is derived from the CI and that the CI is the fundamental method of morality. • The humanity formula is based on the idea of respect. Kant believes that with the other formulas the CI is perceived as intuition rather than the Universal Law formula. The humanity formula indicates that using others, as a means to our ends does not apply, this would be absurd in pursuing our goals. The humanity in us should be treated as an end in itself.