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Ethics

21 January 2018

Essay 3

Immanuel Kant was an 18th
century philosopher whose work on ethic radiates into modern day moral
theories. Kant’s ideas on moral theorizes differ greatly from that of utilitarianism.
Kant’s came up with categorially imperatives to explain his moral theories. While
on the other hand Utilitarianism’s moral theorizes are based on the principle
of the greatest good for the greatest number. The morality of right and wrong
are very unalike within both of these theories. An example of these differences
can be seen in whether slavery is right or wrong. Utilitarianism would allow
slavery as long as the majority is benefitting from it; Where Kant’s moral
theory would be against it.

Kant’s theory is based off of the use of
categorical imperative for judgment of morality. Kant explained his ideas on
categorical imperative as “act only according to that maxim whereby you can at
the same time will that it should become a universal law”.(Kant) This is a
version of a commonly held idea that many religions use. The idea of treat
others how you would like to be treated. A maxim is a reason a person commits
and act.(Kant) Kant is saying that a person can act simply from duty. He theorizes
that everyone has an ulterior motive for their actions, consequently no
individual can act from duty. For something to be valued as morally good it is attained
only if individuals act from duty. A good will in itself is the best action
possible. (Kant) Kant also alleged it is impossible to know if an individual is
acting from duty. The alternatives to acting from duty are acting in compliance
to duty, and opposite to duty. If one acts contrary to duty, then the person is
not acting in good faith. If the individual acts in compliance to duty, then
the action is considered right. Acting in accordance to duty is the best an
individual can knowingly achieve. The only way an action can be considered
good, is if it follows the principle that if you were actor would this be
something you would want done to yourself in a similar situation. Kant wanted
look at situation from a different perspective. Kant wants us to “Act so as to
treat people always as ends in themselves, never as mere means.” The categorial
imperative Kant argues is our rational mind that we truly believe when we are
thinking sensibly. It comes from our own intelligence. When we are thinking
rationally, and sensibility is gives us freedom to act with good will.
Categorial imperatives are commands you must follow, regardless of your
desires. Kant believed moral obligations are derived from pure reason. Our
autonomy comes from the fact that it doesn’t matter if you want to be moral or
not. Moral Law is binding on all of us. While Kant liked the idea of religions
having moral laws that their follow should follow he theorized that you don’t
need religion to know what law is rather because knowing the difference between
right and wrong is solely based on using our intellect. Kant explains stating
“We’re not mere objects that exist to be used by others. We’re our own ends. We
are rational and autonomous. We have the ability to set our own goals and work
towards them. Unlike animals and other things in the world we have
self-control. We are able to set our own goals and make free choices based own
our rational actions. As humans we have an inherent moral value which should
not be manipulated for our own benefit. Therefore, Things like lying and
stealing are not acceptable because if someone is lying to us we no longer have
our autonomy because the decision we make is based off of false information.
Kant argued that if one applies his categorical imperative rationally then it
will create a moral truth that is fixed and applicable to all moral beings.

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