The Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel Kant Essay

The Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel Kant Essay

Length: 1151 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Through his discussion of morals in the Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Immanuel Kant explores the question of whether a human being is capable of acting solely out of pure duty and if our actions hold true moral value. In passage 407, page 19, Kant proposes that if one were to look at past experiences, one cannot be certain that his or her rationalization for performing an action that conforms with duty could rest solely on moral grounds. In order to fully explain the core principle of moral theory, Kant distinguishes between key notions such as a priori and a posteriori, and hypothetical imperative vs. categorical imperative, in order to argue whether the actions of rational beings are actually moral or if they are only moral because of one’s hidden inclinations.
When Kant says, "For when moral value is being considered, the concern is not with the actions, which are seen, but rather with their inner principles, which are not seen," in page 19, he is suggesting that a person's true motives behind the action are more important in determining if the action holds true moral value. As Jonathan Bennett, a British philosopher of language and metaphysics who translated Kant's Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, says when moral worth is in question it is not a matter of visible actions but of their invisible inner principles. Kant explains that a human being might have inclinations, reasons for doing something, beyond moral reasons. Inclinations are motives (desires, interests, incentives, fears, or impulses) that one may possess, but will sometimes seem hidden when performing an action. If there lies a motive behind carrying out an action, aside from the sake of duty alone, then it can be considered to be immoral. Kant e...


... middle of paper ...


...value through discussing duty in light of a priori and experience. In conclusion, he suggests that because actions depend on specific circumstances, a priori beliefs cannot be extracted from experience. People’s experiences and actions are based on circumstantial motivations; thus they can’t conform to categorical imperatives either because categorical imperatives are principles that are intrinsically good and must be obeyed despite the circumstance or situation. Kant concludes that rational beings are ends in themselves and that principle is a universal law, which comes from reason and not experience.




Works Cited

Bennett, Jonathan. "Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals." Http://www.stolaf.edu/.
N.p., July 2005. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.
Kant, Immanuel, and James W. Ellington. Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals.
Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Pub., 1981. Print.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel Kant Essay

- ... Categorical imperatives, however, are ends in of itself. He says that actions are only good if they are carried out "just because," which would be a categorical imperative. However, he argues that actions are usually not assumed for the sake of duty alone but because of some self-interest, which forces them to act out that action where they wouldn't have otherwise. This is evident when Kant states that "in fact, there is absolutely no possibility by means of experience to make out with complete certainty a single case in which the maxim of an action that may in other respects conform with duty has rested solely on moral grounds" (Kant, 19)....   [tags: philosophy, actions, moral values]

Powerful Essays
1151 words (3.3 pages)

The Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel Kant Essay

- In Immanuel Kant’s Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, he discusses his fundamental principle of morality. This is also known as his “categorical imperative”. His principle of morality basically states that all actions are moral and “good” if they are performed as a duty. Such an idea is exemplified when he says, “I should never act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim should become a universal law” (Kant 14). Kant also seeks to apply his principal to suicide, as well has helping others in distress....   [tags: philosophy, categorical imperative]

Powerful Essays
674 words (1.9 pages)

Immanuel Kant 's Metaphysics Of Morals Essay

- 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....   [tags: Categorical imperative, Immanuel Kant, Morality]

Powerful Essays
1796 words (5.1 pages)

Essay about Immanuel Kant 's Metaphysics Of Morals

- Immanuel Kant’s “Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals” answers the question of, where does the moral value or worth of an action reside by stating the only thing that can be completely good is a good will itself. He voices that even good moral acts and good moral things can have a negative result. Good will is a formal law like how gravity is a law, in order to have a good-willed society, everyone must obey this moral, universal law. The specific requirements of good will are performed by duties, these duties are designed to attain, “this notion that always holds the highest esteem in estimating the value of our actions” (Kant, 116)....   [tags: Ethics, Morality, Immanuel Kant, Aesthetics]

Powerful Essays
1056 words (3 pages)

Immanuel Kant's Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals Essays

- Immanuel Kant's Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals In his publication, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, Immanuel Kant supplies his readers with a thesis that claims morality can be derived from the principle of the categorical imperative. The strongest argument to support his thesis is the difference between actions in accordance with duty and actions in accordance from duty. To setup his thesis, Kant first draws a distinction between empirical and “a priori” concepts. Empirical concepts are ideas we reach from our experiences in the world....   [tags: Kant Philosophy Metaphysics Essays]

Powerful Essays
1572 words (4.5 pages)

Immanuel Kant 's Metaphysics Of Morals Tightly Associates Rationality, Will, And Moral Law

- Immanuel Kant in his Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals tightly associates rationality, will, and moral law with autonomous action. Autonomous action in Kantian philosophy is thought as having the will to act independently and freely, or rather to be self-governing. However at the same time, he argues that the only way to do so is to act in accordance with the moral law which we can will to be a universal law. The evident question that arises with this is why is this so. Modern interpretation would suggest that this almost appears to be a contradiction as acting freely would seemingly not require abiding to a law....   [tags: Morality, Immanuel Kant, Human, Ethics]

Powerful Essays
1121 words (3.2 pages)

Analysis of Immanuel Kant´s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals Essay

- Immanuel Kant is a popular modern day philosopher. He was a modest and humble man of his time. He never left his hometown, never married and never strayed from his schedule. Kant may come off as boring, while he was an introvert but he had a great amount to offer. His thoughts and concepts from the 1700s are still observed today. His most recognized work is from the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Here Kant expresses his idea of ‘The Good Will’ and the ‘Categorical Imperative’. The concept Kant is displaying in his work is the universal maxim....   [tags: Will, Actions, Morality]

Powerful Essays
926 words (2.6 pages)

Kant 's Of The Metaphysics Of Morals Essay

- In Immanuel Kant’s work, “Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals” he discusses what is good will. He believes that a good will is in itself already good and acts in accordance with goodness. So the traits that are normally associated with a good will like intelligence and courage are not be valued as good but rather are only temperaments that can be used in both good and bad aspects. A good will is not brought on by actions or is it meant to provide some sort of reward at the end of completion, but rather it is brought on only when a will desires to be good....   [tags: Morality, Immanuel Kant, Philosophy, Law]

Powerful Essays
725 words (2.1 pages)

Essay about Kant 's Metaphysics Of Morals

- In Grounding of the Metaphysics of Morals, Immanuel Kant discusses humans as rational beings as they relate to morality in one’s decision making. He proposes that people follow the categorical imperative, a principle that says: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” (Kant 30). Kant believes that humans, since they have reason, are able to exercise ethics in every action and towards any person. In doing so, they demonstrate their “intrinsic worth, i.e., dignity” (40)....   [tags: Morality, Immanuel Kant, Ethics, Human]

Powerful Essays
822 words (2.3 pages)

Kant 's Grounding For The Metaphysics Of Morals Essay

- Analysis on Immanuel Kant’s Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals In Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Immanuel Kant argues that human beings inherently have capability to make purely rational decisions that are not based on inclinations and such rational decisions prevent people from interfering with freedom of another. Kant’s view of inherent ability to reason brings different perspective to ways which human beings can pursue morality thus it requires a close analytical examination. Kant believes the morality of our action doesn’t depend on the consequences because consequences are beyond our control....   [tags: Immanuel Kant, Philosophy, Morality]

Powerful Essays
1400 words (4 pages)