Hume sees moral judgements as being caused by sentiments of pain or pleasure within an agent as reason alone can never motivate, whereas Kant see the only moral actions as being those caused by reason alone, or the categorical imperative. I think that both theories have a problem with coming up with absolute moral laws - Hume's theory because absolute morality would appear to be impossible if morality is based on an individual's sentiment, and Kant's theory because it cannot prove the existence of the categorical imperative.
This is not an ideal situation because placing a slight neglect to a duty or obligation that you might not find appeal in defeats the purpose of completing all of the obligations set for us to go through with. Kant’s thesis has strength in the fact that the universal law seems closely related to the golden rule, which is do on to others as you would have others do on to you. With a statement as such it is awfully arduous to not perform a moral action. The weakness still lies in the fact Kant takes little to no consideration to humans’ natural emotions and feelings. Leading a moral life does not have to be a melancholy life, one in which you are bound to an endless amount of duties that you can seek no joy in.
Mill writes that “… when he begins to deduce from this precept [the universal law test] any of the actual duties on morality, he fails … to show that there would be any contradiction, any logical impossibility, in the adoption by all rational beings of the most outrageously immoral rules of conduct” ( Troyer 97). In defending his own moral theory, Mill gives a similar example to Kant’s, explaining how the principle of utility does not justify lying. Mill writes that “… it would often be expedient … to tell a lie. But inasmuch as the cultivation in ourselves of a sensitive feeling on the subject of veracity is one of the most useful… and inasmuch as any, even unintentional, deviation from truth does that much toward weakening the trustworthiness of human assertion… [a person who lies] acts as one of their own worst enemies” (Troyer 112). Mill’s rejection of lying as right course of action is based on the negative consequences it
Kant argues that human reasoning is limited in its ability to provide an example of true morality. In his essay, he states that what humans perceive as good morals does not necessarily fit the conditions of what can be categorized as universal law of morality. Kant believes that people must hold morality not solely as an idea or set of exceptions but as an absolute idea (Kant 408). This absolute idea should be free of human rationalization in order to create a pure example. He believes this to be the case because within this form of rationalizing what is good from what is wrong there are often cases that stray away from true virtue such as human behavior.
Kant also believes that an action is right or wrong based solely on the reason by which it was performed. However, a Utilitarian, like John Mill, would reject Kant’s reasoning of originating good characters out of actions alone, and instead argue that if an action has bad consequences, then the action was morally wrong. Kant believes that an action has moral worth only if it is done out of respect for our moral code. He names this moral action a ‘duty.’ Kant also believes that in determining the moral worth of an action, we need to look at the maxim by which it was performed. So, we need to look at one’s reason for doing an action to determine if it is a duty.
1 Thus it is clear to Kant that the long-held idea that reason existed to nurture man's happiness is fundamentally untrue. However Kant maintained that there must be a purpose for which reason was placed in man. He arrives at the conclusion that although reason influences the will, it is not meant to do so in order to supply any goods outside of its initial influence, "[reason'... ... middle of paper ... ...accruing to me or even to others, but because it cannot be fitting as a principle in a possible legislation of universal Iason exacts from me immediate respect for such legislation. 11 This means that if one's maxim clearly nullifies itself once applied theoretically on a universal level, the maxim, or the theoretic legislation, must be considered against that which is good. When considering the Platonic form of goodness, Kant's idea of the good will is similar in that it adheres to a theoretical universal, and that reason is essential to its discovery.
Although his theory may have seemed like an accurate statement, Kant thought differently and believed that the consequentialist ethical theory made no sense. He believed that whether or not someone is good or bad is not based on their consequences. “Kant argues, that what gives a particular action moral worth is not the kind of action it is, nor the consequences of the action is performed by the psychological maxim motivating that action.” (Bailey, p.54). He states that no matter what action you do, ... ... middle of paper ... ...osite force to oppose it. An example would be life and death.
He said that it was our duty to promote the highest good (summum bonum), however virtue and happiness are independent of one another, in that it is often the case that the virtuous are unhappy and the wicked are happy. Kant then went on to say that it is only in the next life, after death that the union of virtue and happiness must occur (here solving the problem of evil). And therefore, it is logical to presume that there is an afterlife, and consequently a God for morality to exist. Kant believed it impossible to argue from the world to God (hence why he rejected moral arguments for the existence of God) as he regarded such an exercise to be impossible. However, he did think that God was a postulate of practical reason.
This would mean that everyone who tells a promise would have no intention of keeping it. This would make promises pointless, as no one would keep them and there would be no reason for them. He uses this to argue that the maxim of making a promise with no intention of keeping it is not a maxim at all, because it would not work in society. Kant finds maxims very important as he believes that they are the main basis of ‘good will’. If there was no maxims, then there would be no universal morality in which we could uphold.
What we have to do is discover what they are.”1 The clashes in cultures between difference of morality does not mean that morals are relative, all that it... ... middle of paper ... ... suggest that man is incapable (or perhaps too indolent) in finding the truth. If we are to accept the vast differences in morals and ethics in the world as a beneficial standard to society we then accept that there is no right and wrong, and thus there is no action that is best, and no action that can be justified. We must realize certain values and beliefs that are ignorant to those commands of God. Part of man's mission is discovering the preexisting and universal code that God intends for us to ascertain. This was the very reason Jesus was sent to us almost 2000 years ago, and it will be the same reason for his return, to help instill those morals, values, and principles.