Duty or Continence
Evaluate whether respect for the moral law (as described by Kant), or continence (as described by Aristotle) provides a more attractive account of moral motivation. (Be sure to explain which is theory is better and why.)
Word count: 1600
Aristotle and Kant are two philosophers who argue about the moral worth of actions and motivations for acting in accordance with them. In this paper, I will explain their theories and raise two objections to Aristotle’s theory in virtue ethics. In my opinion, in compare to Aristotle, Kant’s idea about the motivation for moral actions is more persuasive, because, despite the Aristotle’s idea, it contributes to every one’s happiness. In addition, Aristotle believes that the right action shall be the mean between the excess and defect, relatively to the individuals, which may not always lead to the best decision in some conditions. Aristotle believes that everything has a function, and can be categorized according to that. The function is unique to all things of one kind and they have special capability for doing that and for human beings, the capacity for reason is distinctive. After saying this idea, Aristotle mentions that, for each category of being, “the good and the well is thought to reside in” that specific function and thus, for humans, thing that “makes a man good and which makes him do his own work well” are states of characters, which lead him to perform reasoning perfectly (Aristotle, 115) and he calls those character traits, “virtue” (Aristotle, 118). Virtue has two kinds, intellectual and moral; the moral virtues don’t exist by nature and we are not born with them, because no characteristic which came about by nature can be changed to behave in another way; but rather, they are gained by exercising and result in habits (Aristotle, 115). As a consequence, according to Aristotle, a person can only be good or truly happy if he exercises his rational capacities, because reasoning is the...
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