Immanuel Kant 's Metaphysics Of Morals Essay

Immanuel Kant 's Metaphysics Of Morals Essay

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Immanuel Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals explores themes of morality and its application to rational beings. Rationality, to Kant, includes a necessary commitment to morality, wherein failing to be moral is simultaneously a failure to be rational. Within this work, Kant proposes a concept that he entitles the “Categorical Imperative”. The Categorical Imperative is essential in the exploration of morality in the rational being, and, as with morality, is dependent solely on reason alone. The Categorical Imperative, as illustrated by Kant, is an unconditional law of morality that must be obeyed in all circumstances, separate from condition or character. As such, the Categorical Imperative serves a supreme principle of morality in order to ensure a uniform code by which all rational beings must abide. The Categorical Imperative is juxtaposed by the Hypothetical Imperative, which is dependent on contingent wants and desires. Within the nature of the Categorical Imperative is the necessity of its universalizability, which ensures that all rational beings, regardless of the individual, must adopt any particular set of standards in brings forth.

In order to be a rational being, one must be an agent of free will. Free will is exercised by acting for a reason, which transcends a simple cause in that it not only explains, but also justifies the actions to be taken to fulfill a particular end. Reason, at the heart of agency, is also essential in what Kant refers to as a “maxim”: one’s reason for acting, or what exactly they are trying to accomplish. The Categorical Imperative ultimately aims to universalize certain maxims that are morally based, effectively allowing us to evaluate actions within a moral framework.

Kant’s Cate...


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...’s first two formulations provide helpful instruction for the regulation and universalization of moral law, it appears that the strict and seemingly concrete guidelines by which both perfect and imperfect duties operate is far more convoluted than initially agreed upon. Furthermore, Kant’s maxim of “do not kill” as a perfect duty lacks reinforcement or consideration of circumstances such as “an eye for an eye”, where one kill or at least harm another individual on a revenge basis. Though Kant ideally believes that certain maxims are capable of escaping subjectivity, many perfect duties he suggests would fare better if considered imperfect duties, such as his maxim “do not lie”. Conclusively, while Kant’s Categorical Imperative provides useful guidelines for maintaining consistency of morality among most rational beings, it does not maintain consistency among itself.

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