Kantian Ethics

Topics: Morality, Law, Ethics Pages: 2 (642 words) Published: November 17, 2013
According to Kant, everything that we can think of as desirable or good are not good in themselves, rather they qualify or are thought of as being good. Example of such things that are considered as good or desirable include intelligence, wit, temperament, wealth, and health etc. All these things are not good in themselves as they can also be used for bad purposes. These things only qualify as good when used to achieve a good outcome. Therefore, according to Kant, the only thing that can be thought of to be good in itself is the good will behind an act, which is good even if it fails to bring about positive results. Kant, however, argues that even though a goodwill is good in itself, it is not enough to be considered as a basis of morality. This is because many a times an act of goodwill is performed out of a personal interest, or out of an inclination. To be considered as a basis of morality, an act has to be unconditionally good; and personal interests or inclinations deprive the goodwill behind that act to be considered as unconditionally good. A will behind an act is, therefore, unconditionally good, according to Kant, if the act is performed out of a sense of “Duty” and duty alone, i.e. there is no inclination or personal interest attached with the will. In other words, we should act from respect for the moral law, keeping aside our personal interests. Kant then goes on to propose that the actions done from duty should be morally based upon a maxim, i.e. the rule which determines the duty or the actions that we must carry out; and the maxim must form the Law of morality. To form the Law of morality, the maxim must satisfy two properties. The first property is that the maxim could be formed into a universal law of nature, i.e. if all rational beings follow that maxim, it would not contradict itself. The second property would be to decide if you would be willing to live in a world where that maxim is followed universally. Kant then gives examples of testing...
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