Immanuel Kant was a philosopher in the 1900s. He argued that fundamental concepts makeup human experience, and that reason is the source behind morality. He also believed that our intentions should justify whether an action is right or wrong. Kant says that good will is good not because of what it effects or accomplishes, but it’s only good through willing. Therefore, it is good in itself and is an intrinsic good. He claims that consequences don’t make up right and wrong, but our intentions of our actions. Immanuel Kant also talks about duty and desire. Duty is to feel responsible to do something. Not something you have to do in that you do not have a choice in it. It is still a choice in that it’s a feeling like it is something you have to do. Duty is setting aside desires or urges to accomplish certain things and for the sake of morality, while on the other hand, desires are the things we want to do. His overall idea behind his philosophy is that you have a right to set aside your desires and inclinations. He wants you to do the best action in a certain case. An example of this is if your parents lost their home due to bankruptcy and they want to live with you, you have to set aside the fact that you do not want them to live with you and let them stay for a little while until they can afford a different one.
Along with duty and desires at the heart of his philosophy, comes a moral system. In his moral system, Kant states that it is irrationally to act immorally against reason. He believes that we need a moral system that consists of obligations in parts of all of us. These obligations need to be universal and absolute. The problem with this is that it is subjective. This being subjective gets rid of everything from our culture and religion to or parents or peers. So we are looking for something that is intrinsically valuable. With his moral system, Kant believes there is reason on modern morality. To him, the herd uses modern morality to produce human beings as tame, which in turn, you need to give them a way to repress these urges or desires. He treats others as ends, not means to an end. This means that we have come to the values that people have created in a certain time at a certain place that they are absolute and non-changing. Kant believes good will is a kind of intrinsic good. By this he means that all other goods are subordinate to a good will (Kant Notes). Therefore, Kant defines good will as the condition of being worthy of happiness and without good will; all other goods can become bad or negative (Kant, page 7). Kant connects duty and good will together by saying that the concept of good will is to that of duty. A good will is a moral agent’s capacity to act from the motive of duty, and not just in accordance with the demands of duty (Kant Notes). This means that the overall goal of a good will is conformity with duty, not happiness. Kant has three propositions behind his theory. His first one states that an action has to be performed out of a moral duty to have moral worth. This means that the test of a person’s character is not whether or not you act in conformity with duty, but whether or not you act from the motive of duty, even when it’s against your tendency. His second proposition states that moral worth of an action is independent from its consequences. The moral worth of an action is grounded on its intentions. This means that murder, lying, and stealing, they are not wrong because of their consequences, but because of your intentions on trying to do so. The third and final proposition of Kant’s theory is duty is the necessity of an action out of respect for the moral law. Duty is the acknowledgements of an obligation to the requirements expressed by the moral law regardless of our desires of inclination. Immanuel Kant describes two types of imperatives that run along with his propositions. These two propositions are called...
Cited: Ellington, James W., & Kant, Immanuel. Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals; with On a Supposed Right to Lie Because of Philanthropic Concerns. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 1993. Print.
Notes from Lectures, Professor Gougelet.
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