Immanuel Kant 's Theory Of Radical Evil Essay

Immanuel Kant 's Theory Of Radical Evil Essay

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Immanuel Kant’s theory of Radical Evil presents a secular position defining evil in away of which the agents performing evil acts can be held accountable. It centres around the concept that evil, specifically evil is performing acts of atrocity rooted from placing self-love ahead of duty. Therefore right action is acting out of duty in obedience with the Universal moral law, and in contrast what can be seen as an evil act is an act carried out with the motivation being self-love or self centred tendencies. Furthermore, choosing to perform an evil act in order for superiority or even evil for the cause of being evil is seen by Kant as diabolical evil, but he denied its possibility in accordance with moral agents. Kant believes that all moral agents possess the predispositions to act on both moral law or duty and self-interest. However it is what impulse these agents choose to act on which allows them to be held accountable in terms of whether they committed an evil act by acting upon self-interest as opposed to duty.
To illustrate a more detailed account of Kant’s theory of Radical Evil, it must be clear how his theory applies to moral agents. Kant rejects accounts that evil could possibly be inherited from previous generations, but rather all agents are equal in terms of virtues and vices. Kant states that these potentials exist within in all people, agents have the capacity and knowledge to treat those around them morally and with respect or, act upon their own self-interest, “the propensity to evil is affirmed by Kant as a universal yet non-necessary feature of every human being” (Hanson 3). It is the choices agents make between that of self-love or duty to others which can define whether they are, in a sense, morally good. Kan...


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...unt for intention, as intention can often affect action and consequence or whether a person is truly evil, such as someone only using torture methods for information to protect national security. Whether this is a different degree of evil or these actions can be justified is not accounted for by Kant.
Kant’s theory can be broken down, examined and criticised even further but the keep components are that of moral law versus self-interest, and how this can lead to corruption of maxims. This can potentially further corrupts into a loss of all principles and creates perversity that allows agents to commit acts of radical evil, of which they can be held accountable. Kant’s theory is strict with intention or will being discounted as the actions are always seen as equal, however it can assist with determining how the motivation begins for people to commit such atrocities.

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