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. A “good will” is good because of the willing that is involved. Two main implications arise with this idea of the “good will”. The first implication is moral actions cannot have impure motivations. There are many impure motivations but Kant tends to focus mainly on the motives of the pursuit of happiness and self-preservation.
“The representation of an objective principle, insofar as it is necessitating for a will, is called a command (of reason), and the formula of the command is called an imperative”(Kant, 24). In other words, an imperative is something that a will ought or shall do because the will is obligated to act in a way in which conforms to moral law. Imperatives can also be referred to as the supreme principle of morality. According to Kant, there are two types of imperatives: hypothetical and categorical. Hypothetical imperatives are actions that look for the best means to a goal, however, the goal might not necessarily be an end in itself.
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.
It is more plausible because even if the consequences of performing an action are not necessarily the best, the agent is still obligated to perform the action because it is there duty to do so. Therefore, ethically and morally they are doing the right thing. In conclusion, this paper has discussed two main theories regarding the ethical behavior of human beings. Kantianism is a theory based on duties, maxims, willing and the categorical imperative. Also, it focuses on the motivation of actions, has clear and distinct set of universal rules, and is morally logical.
The imperative in this case refers to a command. Principally, Kant argued that immorality involved the violation of the Categorical Imperative, hence it was deemed irrational. By analyzing Johnson’s article Kant’s Moral Philosophy, one can deduce that Kant was in agreement with his predecessors on the fact that practical reason analysis only reveals the prerequisite that rational agents must conform to instrumental principles. Nevertheless he argues that the rational agency should be shaped in accordance with the CI and hence would achieve the moral requirements themselves. Kant argued that the rational will is always autonomous; hence, he states that the morality principle is a law of autonomous will.
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.
(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's theory can be categorized as a deonotological because "actions are not assessed to be morally permissible on the basis of consequences they produce, but rather on the form of the agent's will in acting," (Dodds, Lecture 7) therefore his actions are based on duty and not consequential. Kantianism is based on three principles: maxims, willing, and the categorical imperative. Kant states that a maxim is a "general rule or principle which will explain what a person takes himself to be doing and the circumstances in which he takes himself to be doing it" (Feldman, 1999, 201). It is important that this principle be universalisable and that the maxim can be applied consistently to everyone that encounters similar situations, therefore willed as a universal law. The second aspect of Kant's theory is willing.
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.
To thoroughly comprehend Kant’s moral philosophy, we must first understand two key elements by which it stands: good will and the categorical imperative. Primordially, Kant believes in good will. Some value happiness, justice or even authority; Kant, on the other hand, values our good will above anything else. Good will, he contends, is our commitment to do our duty for its own sake (Shafer-Landau, pg. 70).