Morality and Kantian Perspective

Topics: Morality, Categorical imperative, Immanuel Kant Pages: 5 (1727 words) Published: March 19, 2012
The Kantian Perspective
Immanuel Kant created a new perspective in philosophy which had widespread influences on contemporary philosophy work. Through all his achievements in philology, his moral Philosophy will be discussed in this paper. According to Kant’s theory, moral laws relate to fairness and consistency. Both of these concepts lead to the principle of universalizability. He stated that, “An act is morally acceptable if and only if its maxim is universalizable.” To prove his statement he used two imperatives which are hypothetical imperatives and Categorical Imperatives. “Categorical Imperatives” is a single moral obligation that relates to the concept of duty which Kant defines as a major content in this obligation. Kant assessed the principle of universalizability by denying benevolence which he also used in his other theory “the principle of humanity.” Both of his principles proved the relationship between morality and rationality. Kant did show his opposition to utilitarianism and handled the shortcomings of consequentialism. On the other hand, the Kantian perspective has its own problems that are neatly addressed by consequentialism. The Kantian perspective did draw strong claims compared to utilitarianism in some concepts; however, Kant’s theory did have its problems generally.

Consistency and Fairness are considered to be basic concepts to define Kantian perspective. However, both tests in these concepts have shortcomings to prove the relationship between consistency and moral standards. Then he found the principle of universalizability: “An act is morally acceptable if and only if its maxim is universalizable.” (SHAFER-LANDAU, 147) A maxim has two parts and states what you are about to do, and why you are about to do it. According to Kant, every action has a maxim, and we cite the maxim when we try to explain to others why we act as we do. In this case, that means if we lack a maxim, then we aren’t really acting at all. Therefore Kant values an action’s rightness depending on its maxim. His theory indicates morality has everything to do with our intentions; this contradicts the theory that says results that reverse the contents of consequentialism. To contrast consequentialism, for example I want to keep a promise to people, for different reasons, than I admit. From a utilitarian perspective, as long as I keep my promise my action is moral no matter what intention I have. The Kantian perspective shows a completely different way, where behavior is valued by maxims. That means moral behavior should have a correct maxim, otherwise this would not be consistent with the moral results. Compared to consequentialism, Kantian theory indicates a better perspective to define morality. Kantian theory supports our thought that those who set out to do evil are acting immorally, even if, through sheer chance, they manage to do good. It also justifies the claim that people who live by noble principles are acting morally, even when some unforeseeable accident intervenes, and their action brings only bad results. (SHAFER-LANDAU, 148)

In Kantian perspective, Kant had a strong reason to show that the morality of an action depends on its maxim, rather than the results. However, Kant did not have a strong statement to prove all maxims are universal in the moral world. There is a three-part test to prove the universal nature of a maxim: 1. Formulate your maxim clearly- state what you intend to do, and why you intend to do it. 2. Imagine a world in which everyone supports and acts on your maxim. 3. Then ask: Can the goal of my action be achieved in such a world? The reason to do this three-part test is to prove that we are pursuing actions for reasons that everyone could stand behind. However, doing test did not result in motives and action that everyone could support. For example, a homeowner wants to keep a perfect lawn so he killed the mailman to prevent the mailman trampling his lawn. The maxim of...

Cited: Shafer-Landau Russ, . The fundamentals of ethics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. 322-13. Print.
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