Immanuel Kant Major Works

The Philosophy of Life in Utilitarianism and Kantianism

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

What world would you rather live in? A world where your happiness or life can be taken away from you for the sake of others or a world where you’re acknowledged as a rational being? According to Kant, we should look at our maxims, or intentions, of the particular action. Kantians believe “human life is valuable because humans are the bearers of rational life”. In other words, humans are free rational beings capable of rational behavior and should not be used purely for the enjoyment or happiness of another.

On the other hand, Utilitarians believe that we should do actions that produce the greatest amount of happiness. The problem with this, however, is that it could involve using people as mere means and may lead to the sacrifice of lives for the greater good. It is easier to determine an action as morally right in Kantian ethics than in utilitarian ethics. When data is scarce, Kantian theory offers more precision than utilitarianism because one can generally determine if somebody is being used as a mere means, even if the impact on human happiness is ambiguous. Kantians “consider only the proposals for an action that occur to them and check that these proposals use no other as mere means” which in my personal belief that this is the same thought process as a machine. Contrastingly, utilitarianism compares all available acts and sees which has the best effects. Although utilitarianism has a larger scope than Kantianism, it is a more timely process.

In which in retrospect of how these two on morale indifferences still see that the best was to decide something is by best ending result. I strongly did agree with the thought process of a method of taking almost zero consequences into account for the out come. The decision-making method of calculating all of the potential costs and benefits of an action is extremely time consuming and leaves little time for promoting happiness, which is the Utilitarian goal.

Immanuel Kant was an influential German philosopher in the Age of Enlightenment. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time, and causation are mere sensibilities; ‘things-in-themselves’ exist, but their nature is unknowable. Kant’s theory is an example of a deontological moral theory according to these theories, the rightness or wrongness of actions does not depend on their consequences but on whether they fulfill our duty. In Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy, it is defined as the capacity of a rational being to act according to principles, pure reasoning. At the foundation of Kant’s system is the doctrine of “transcendental idealism,” which emphasizes a distinction between what we can experience (the natural, observable world) and what we cannot “supersensible” objects such as God and the soul). Kant argued that we can only have knowledge of things we can experience. Accordingly, in answer to the question, “What can I know?” Kant replies that we can know the natural, observable world, but we cannot, however, have answers to many of the deepest questions of metaphysics. Kant’s ethics are organized around the notion of a “categorical imperative,” which is a universal ethical principle stating that one should always respect the humanity in others, and that one should only act in accordance with rules that could hold for everyone. Kant argued that the moral law is a truth of reason, and hence that all rational creatures are bound by the same moral law. Thus in answer to the question, “What should I do?” Kant replies that we should act rationally, in accordance with a universal moral law.

Kant also argued that his ethical theory requires belief in free will, God, and the immortality of the soul. Although we cannot have knowledge of these things, reflection on the moral law leads to a justified belief in them, which amounts to a kind of rational faith. Thus in answer to the question, “What may I hope?” Kant replies that we may hope that our souls are immortal and that there really is a God who designed the world in accordance with principles of justice.

The semantics to this debate is that we have to take a stand on whether or not we should be allowed to end a life over greater good. In this aspect, what are we choosing as are guidelines to what the greater good or the greatest amount of happiness that can possibly be created though this thought process. I believe the utilitarianism view point is better in my mind. Kantianism and utilitarianism have different ways for determining whether an act we do is right or wrong. When in comparison of how we think of things that we decided as right or wrong, especially from a point in which a greater power of god (monotheism) vs Gods (Polytheism) is introduced because how can the separation on conscious thought and rational thinking in human life become different. Because from the way Kant speaks of the 3 big questions he has and his answers to them are flawed because there are plenty of things in the natural world that we can feel but can’t physically see. So how would you be able to base a principle of an argument over this considering that faith has no rational concept in the world. We know this because morales have no real test of differentiation in showing that we are morally the same as other living organisms.

So Kantianism shows us that sometimes rationally thinking creatures still have to follow a basic principal. Which show evidence in the fact that aiming for the greater good or even happiness is better. Because those are still principals in which we use today because even in the constitution the pursuit of happiness is something that we should act in the defense of.

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Torture and Ethical Theories of Bentham, Kant, and Aristotle

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Nicholas Tower came crashing down at the sound of an explosion! Shouts of terror echoed all over Independence Square Port of Spain as several people lay dead on the street whilst others were bleeding from injuries caused by flying debris. Another bomb had gone off, but this time Abu Bakr claimed responsibility, and as he was taken into custody he boasted that he had two other bombs planted in buildings somewhere in Trinidad. After days of interviews, He still did not disclose their location and out of desperation someone recommended the use of torture to extract the information. This suggestion caused concerns among some officials, and it should because this resolution was never used before. What exactly is torture? According to article 1 of the United Nations Convention ‘Torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.’ The question now remains; is torture an ethical solution to a threat? There are various ethical theories that can be used to look at the topic of torture, and three of them are spoken of by Bentham, Kant, and Aristotle.

The first theorist is Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) and his theory dealt with Utilitarianism which is a teleological ethical system. According to Bentham this means that what is good is determined by the consequences of the action, and one component of utilitarianism is that the morality of an action should be determined by how much it contributes to the good of the majority. According to Bentham, the utilitarian doctrine states that we should always act so as to produce the greatest possible ratio of good to evil for everyone concerned and in any situation where one must decide between a good for an individual and a good for society, then society should prevail, despite the wrong being done to an individual. By virtue of this theory one can say that the use of torture to learn the location of the two bombs is justified because the greatest ratio of good is produced when the lives of thousands of persons are saved. Notwithstanding that harm may come to Abu Bakr, the utility or good resulting from that action will overshadow the small amount of harm done because the harm is done only to one person whereas the good is multiplied by many.

Jeremy Bentham also provided a utilitarian basis for proportionality in punishment. Utilitarian justice does support punishment, but that punishment should be based on the seriousness of the crime. That means the more serious the crime, the more serious the punishment. In this scenario the purpose of torture is not to punish Abu Bakr, as the proper avenues through the legal system will deal with that aspect. The purpose of the torture however, is to obtain crucial timely information that will result in the salvation of hundreds, even thousands of people from certain death should the other bombs go off. According to Utilitarianism the action is right if it results in the best consequence, and what is best for society. Another theorist is Immanual Kant.

The second theorist as mentioned earlier was a philosopher named Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), and his theory dealt with Ethical formalism which was a deontological system. According to Kant, this meant that the important factor for deciding whether an act is moral is not its consequence, but the motive or intent of the person doing the act. One principle of Ethical formalism is Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. This basically means that for every act performed, would it be acceptable if it were a universal law to be followed by everyone. According to Kantian theory, the question to be considered is would acts of torture be acceptable if everyone used this method to resolve their problems. The answer will be NO. As a matter of fact, the Human Rights Watch organization says that one of the solid principles of International Law is the prohibition of torture to the point where it has been banned at all times, in all places, even during times of war. The organization even went on to say that no national emergency, however dire, ever justified its use. Kantian theory asks the question; what is the rational thing to do. The response to that question is that the action is right if it fits the moral code, or if the action follows a moral rule no matter the consequence. The Human Rights Court has stated that torture is ‘deliberate inhuman treatment causing very serious and cruel suffering’, and Kantian theory is strongly against causing any human being to suffer regardless of the situation.

I have looked at the theories of Bentham, and Kant, now I will examine the theory of Aristotle.

The Third theorist is Aristotle and his theory is called the ethics of virtue or Aristotelianism. Contrary to Bentham and Kant whose theories were based on the ethic of conduct, Aristotle’s theory was based on character, and asked the question; what is a good person, or what is the best kind of person to be? According to Aristotle, an action is right if it is what a virtuous person would do in a situation, if it embodies the greatest virtue. Would a virtuous person cause deliberate inhuman treatment, cruel suffering and pain to another human being? Would a virtuous person torture another human being especially one in custody? The Pillars of Character transmitted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics (2008) are similar to the characters outlined by Aristotle’s virtues, and one of them speaks about fairness. This speaks about treating everyone impartially, equally and giving persons the opportunity for due process under the law. None of these virtues speaks about or condones torturing anybody.

In conclusion, having looked at the theories of Aristotle, Immanual Kant and Jeremy Bentham, and based on the scenario presented in the introduction, the author of this paper is in support of Bentham and his Utilitarianistic theories. I would use torture as a means to extract information concerning the bombs location(s) from Abu Bakr, but that would not have been a rushed decision. I would have examined the question How do I get what is best for society? According to the theory of Utilitarianism, one should always act so as to produce the greatest possible ratio of good to evil for everyone concerned. I am of the view that where the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people hang in the balance, coupled with the fact that Abu Bakr shows no hesitancy in detonating the bombs as displayed earlier, my action would be right because it will result in the best consequence. Apart from that, what ethical theories can I use for allowing the deaths of Thousands of law abiding citizens? I believe that society should never remain at the mercy of criminals and terrorists whose only intent is to cause fear and destruction to a nation. In 1867 John Stuart Mill said: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

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Summary and Analysis of Kant’s Essay “What is Enlightenment”

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Kant’s “What is enlightenment” was written in 1784. In his essay, Kant basically replied to a question that was asked in 1783 by Reverand Johann Zollner. Reverand Johann Zollner was a government official who posed an open question to all about the removal of clergy from marriages. Many people replied, but the most famous response came from Kant. Kant defines enlightenment as man’s emergence from self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is define as the state of being immature or not fully grown. In this context, immaturity is the inability to use one’s reasoning without guidance from others. In essence, Kant is saying that we are not grown enough to think for ourselves. Instead, we accept whatever we are fed. Kant further explains that the immature person is this way because he lets others choose for him and becomes dependent on the instructions from others. Because the minor is so dependent, it is much harder for them to act and think on their own. Kant believes that man is incapable of using his own understanding because no one has ever allowed him to challenge it. All our lives we have been told what to do, and what to believe, and we are expected not to question why things are the way they are. “On all sides we hear do not argue”. The pastor tell us do not ask questions, believe. The tax man tell us do not ask questions, pay. The officer tells us do not ask questions, drill. Our whole lives are basically dictated to us and we do not use our reason to oppose what we are told. Instead, we drink the Kool-Aid. Kant tries to explain the influence of the government on its citizens by drawing an analogy using animals. Guardian make their cattle stupid and train them not to cross certain areas without their leading-strings by making the cattle aware of the dangers that lie ahead. This makes the cattle afraid to even try and see for themselves. Likewise, the government provides its people with a set of principles and concepts that the minors immediately agree with, which furthers their immaturity.

According to Kant it is extremely difficult for a man to reach maturity alone but it is easy for a group of people to do it together. When a person starts depending on others for guidance, he finds it difficult to break out of that pattern and start thinking on his own. Any mistake he makes will highlight the faults in is way of thinking. A person must possess fearlessness and vigor in order to leave immaturity. Kant’s motto of enlightenment is “have courage to use your own understanding”. Kant was us to dare to know, sapere arde. To emerge from our self-inflicted immaturity we must utilize our reason, practice critical thinking, and manifest curiosity.

Kant also speaks about public and private use of reason. Private reason is related to the reasoning of a large group of people that form an organization. Individuals in an organization cannot freely reason because every organization has an idea that they want people to accept and obey. One organization can be seen as one cog in a machine, and the machine is society. Each organization has a role to play. They want man to obey. Private reason is restricted. An individual is only able to practice reason freely as scholar. This is where public reason comes in. As long as an individual is not a part of an organization they are free to express different views on different subject matters. Kant explains that public use of reason is necessary for enlightenment to take place. Once people start expressing themselves openly in public forums, these discussion will eventually influence decisions taken by those in positions of authority.

Kant also distinguishes between the expressing of ones opinions and acting on those opinions. He uses an example of a clergyman at the church. The clergyman is appointed to teach the principles laid down by the church, so he must teach them as it is. However he can point out constructive criticisms, which can then be reviewed by his seniors. Therefore Kant points out that one cannot achieve enlightenment without following the laws of the society, he has to obey the laws but at the same time he should have the courage to criticize what he thinks is wrong or should be changed. So for Kant any society that does not obey the laws cannot achieve enlightenment.

From this Kant leads to the notion of how a monarch lacks the power to declare anything upon his people which they would not declare upon themselves, arguing that the power held by a leader is authority that can only be given by the people, not taken from them. He then explains the powers and duties that should be expected from an enlightened monarch living in an enlightened age before asking whether we live in an enlightened age. Surprisingly, his answer is no, with the warning that “we do live in an age of enlightenment.” Kant clarifies that much is still lacking in terms of enlightenment, but the suggestions are a forward progression toward enlightenment as represented by the iconic figure of the enlightened monarch of the day – King Frederick II of Prussia.

Kant concludes his essay by criticizing individuals who reject the pursuit of enlightenment by arguing that in doing so they unfavorably impact the enlightenment of all. Indeed, enlightenment is superior of the individual; the freedom to act grows exponentially with the achieving of enlightenment. Once achieved, it reproduces itself in the freedom to act without fear or cowardice which keeps one unenlightened.

Kant’s “What is enlightenment” was written in 1784. In his essay, Kant basically replied to a question that was asked in 1783 by Reverand Johann Zollner. Reverand Johann Zollner was a government official who posed an open question to all about the removal of clergy from marriages. Many people replied, but the most famous response came from Kant. Kant defines enlightenment as man’s emergence from self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is define as the state of being immature or not fully grown. In this context, immaturity is the inability to use one’s reasoning without guidance from others. In essence, Kant is saying that we are not grown enough to think for ourselves. Instead, we accept whatever we are fed. Kant further explains that the immature person is this way because he lets others choose for him and becomes dependent on the instructions from others. Because the minor is so dependent, it is much harder for them to act and think on their own. Kant believes that man is incapable of using his own understanding because no one has ever allowed him to challenge it. All our lives we have been told what to do, and what to believe, and we are expected not to question why things are the way they are. “On all sides we hear do not argue”. The pastor tell us do not ask questions, believe. The tax man tell us do not ask questions, pay. The officer tells us do not ask questions, drill. Our whole lives are basically dictated to us and we do not use our reason to oppose what we are told. Instead, we drink the Kool-Aid. Kant tries to explain the influence of the government on its citizens by drawing an analogy using animals. Guardian make their cattle stupid and train them not to cross certain areas without their leading-strings by making the cattle aware of the dangers that lie ahead. This makes the cattle afraid to even try and see for themselves. Likewise, the government provides its people with a set of principles and concepts that the minors immediately agree with, which furthers their immaturity.

According to Kant it is extremely difficult for a man to reach maturity alone but it is easy for a group of people to do it together. When a person starts depending on others for guidance, he finds it difficult to break out of that pattern and start thinking on his own. Any mistake he makes will highlight the faults in is way of thinking. A person must possess fearlessness and vigor in order to leave immaturity. Kant’s motto of enlightenment is “have courage to use your own understanding”. Kant was us to dare to know, sapere arde. To emerge from our self-inflicted immaturity we must utilize our reason, practice critical thinking, and manifest curiosity.

Kant also speaks about public and private use of reason. Private reason is related to the reasoning of a large group of people that form an organization. Individuals in an organization cannot freely reason because every organization has an idea that they want people to accept and obey. One organization can be seen as one cog in a machine, and the machine is society. Each organization has a role to play. They want man to obey. Private reason is restricted. An individual is only able to practice reason freely as scholar. This is where public reason comes in. As long as an individual is not a part of an organization they are free to express different views on different subject matters. Kant explains that public use of reason is necessary for enlightenment to take place. Once people start expressing themselves openly in public forums, these discussion will eventually influence decisions taken by those in positions of authority.

Kant also distinguishes between the expressing of ones opinions and acting on those opinions. He uses an example of a clergyman at the church. The clergyman is appointed to teach the principles laid down by the church, so he must teach them as it is. However he can point out constructive criticisms, which can then be reviewed by his seniors. Therefore Kant points out that one cannot achieve enlightenment without following the laws of the society, he has to obey the laws but at the same time he should have the courage to criticize what he thinks is wrong or should be changed. So for Kant any society that does not obey the laws cannot achieve enlightenment.

From this Kant leads to the notion of how a monarch lacks the power to declare anything upon his people which they would not declare upon themselves, arguing that the power held by a leader is authority that can only be given by the people, not taken from them. He then explains the powers and duties that should be expected from an enlightened monarch living in an enlightened age before asking whether we live in an enlightened age. Surprisingly, his answer is no, with the warning that “we do live in an age of enlightenment.” Kant clarifies that much is still lacking in terms of enlightenment, but the suggestions are a forward progression toward enlightenment as represented by the iconic figure of the enlightened monarch of the day- King Frederick II of Prussia.

Kant concludes his essay by criticizing individuals who reject the pursuit of enlightenment by arguing that in doing so they unfavorably impact the enlightenment of all. Indeed, enlightenment is superior of the individual; the freedom to act grows exponentially with the achieving of enlightenment. Once achieved, it reproduces itself in the freedom to act without fear or cowardice which keeps one unenlightened.

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Critique of Immanuel Kant’s Idea of Abolishing the Delusions for the Sake of Intellectual Progress

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Immanuel Kant had a keen awareness of the schism separating the capacity of human beings to perceive the world around them and truly know about things in the world. Despite how unsettling the truth may have appeared at the time, Kant viewed the removal of delusion within human thought as a necessary component of man’s intellectual progress. Through his writings addressing the natural sciences in the preface to the Critique on Pure Reason, Kant expresses that even among our most noble attempts to learn about the cosmos, our best application of reason leaves us only with illusions. Our senses shed a candle on the world that we inhabit that prompts us to know things with a penetrating depth and certainty, but our perception does not give us the tools to grasp all it illuminates. The faculties of our mind open up the world to rational examination, but by the same token, they present the most foreboding barrier to all that human beings desire to know. From this frame, human beings lack the resources to know the objects of the material world as well as nature itself, yet they are unaware of their inability to do so. To see that the tree of knowledge is in front of us, but to lack the awareness that its fruit cannot be plucked is a hazardous deficiency in our thinking. Kant’s role in removing this deception is grounded in his efforts to clearly delineate the boundaries of our reason and reveal the shallowness of our knowledge.

Whatever information one may be able to extract from an object must be given by our intuition. Being conscious and having sense perception allows us to acquire subjective mental representations of the objects that we perceive. In contrast to subjective representation, intuition is an objective manner of representation. Intuition constitutes the structure of our thinking that allows us to construe the nature of the objects that surround us. Space and time are forms of intuition because they shape our interactions with our surroundings. With space being a part of intuition that is externally imposed and time being internally imposed, they are purely features of our mind, things that are germane to human cognition and do not exist exterior to our perception. At the beginning of Remark II, Kant conjoins our concept of space with all the bodies in which they are located in order to conclude that we can only know appearances of things. This is a reflection the reality that subjective representations of objects cannot be extracted from our modes of thinking that order them. The crux of all this is that despite Kant’s admission that experience is at the core of informing our reason as well as all of the natural sciences, experience does not span the gap between what is simply a concept of an object and what constitutes an experience of the object itself. To have a concept of an object arises from a singular interaction within a particular context, but to truly know that object demands a universal understanding of it. There is no singular interaction with any material thing that yields knowing the thing-in-itself in the same way that such considerations as virtue such as courage and honor remain just as elusive. As a human being in the material world, we are given glimpses of the truth underneath our daily interactions, but can approach them only by piecing together a deeper understanding from isolated appearances.

Kant recognizes that this stance regarding man’s relationship to his surroundings bears a resemblance to previous currents of philosophical thought, particularly idealism, and seeks to explain how his analysis is not a continuation of a preexisting idea, but is his own distinct contribution. From his view that human beings can only possess appearances and not knowledge of things-in-themselves, Kant acknowledges a deceptive resemblance between his formulation of perception and idealism, but makes a greater effort in highlighting the differences among these theories rather than their similarities. Along with conferring the reality of appearances, Kant’s view regards the world we inhabit as being real as well, but the only knowledge that is available is that of our concepts, and not insight into our surroundings as they objectively stand. In the manner that he defines the term, idealism does not have an equally truthful view regarding the way in which our senses convey our surroundings and their objective nature. Idealism retains the notion that sense perception delivers an entirely unfaithful portrait of the actual domain of reality. Idealism that imagines a world of only thinking beings effectively fortifies the wall between the mind and external reality. This vision only gives human beings actuality, but through examination, it is not humans as a whole that are most real, but rather the insulated and isolated province of the human mind. It is a reality mapped by a collective consciousness, but can only be encountered one individual at a time.

Kant’s work revolves around his efforts to discover the basic elements of our rationality, and in the process of analyzing the various representations that occur through man’s interaction with his environment, attempts to show what is real about the physical world. George Berkeley was far less focused on the organization of our thinking and how it filtered our experience so much as he sought to show that thinking beings existed. He sought to support his faith in the significance of thinking beings by actively attacking any system that supported the presence of material objects. By noting that our awareness of physical objects was merely an indirect approximation of our ideas, which we are intimately dependent on, Berkeley attempted to justify that such objects can only be represented, never entirely known. As far as Berkeley was concerned, ideas and what they could represent were the only things of value. He stripped the significance of material things so far as to say that objects do not even carry value in their ability to convey abstract ideas.

In order to distinguish his views within the corpus of modern philosophical thought, Kant must address the credited theories on the relation of the mind and the exterior world. While has clearly attempted to divorce his thoughts from those of George Berkeley, he has to acknowledge the same thread of consideration present within such luminaries as René Descartes and John Locke. In particular, Kant states that idealism has been popular since the life of Locke, but has been taken up with even greater zeal in the intervening period a la Berkeley. Though Berkeley departed from the dualism of Descartes and Locke as a strict idealist, due to the fact that Descartes and Locke ascribed a similar degree of reality to the human possession of ideas, they all maintained some extent of agreement. In this vein, Kant was met with a significant challenge in attempting to emphasize the benefit of his view over that of the prevailing tradition. At the outset of his argument, Kant restates a central claim of Berkeley’s idealism, which is that there are no things-in-themselves. Within this theory, heat, color, and taste are among the qualities of an object that manifest themselves as appearances, but do not exist outside of the mind. Kant pushes this theory a step further, by suggesting that the primary qualities of a body, namely, extension, location, and space are also inventions of our cognition. To these idealists, Kant says that they cannot put forth a single reason against this proposition. In this part of the argument, Kant appears to tacitly suggest the troubling nature of such a strict version of idealism. The Berkelean idealist is inclined to say that the properties of the object do not exist within the object itself, but are located within the mind. Within a worldview where reality is only given to thinking beings, the interaction of our sense perception with exterior objects does not give us appearances, so much it as our own way of perceiving imposes the features that exist as mental representations. There is a kind of arrogance in attempting to give the highest reality to our own features and it is disorienting in how it implicitly states how the things external to us possess none of the features that we are able to see in them. Due to the fact that each quality of an object presents itself as a certain kind of appearance, they are not viewed as being bound in any way, and thus lack all structure. Since space and location are also viewed as principles of the mind, the structure of perception falls away because it exists solely in us. This is aptly contained within Kant’s view that this idealism effectively “destroys” the existence of all objects that can be perceived.

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How Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill Contributed to the Philosophy Principle in the 18th and 19th Century

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Immanuel Kant, who was a German, was born in 1724 and died in 1804. He is considered to be a modern figure of philosophy as his viewpoint talked about the fundamental concepts of the human mind along with other important philosophical conceptions that are still recognized to this day, like epistemology and ethics, this is referred to as Kantianism . On the other hand, Utilitarianism was a concept primarily associated with Jeremy Bentham , who was an English philosopher, a jurist and social reformer, and John Stuart Mill , who was also an English philosopher, political economist, feminist, and civil servant. They both contributed to this principle in philosophy of the 18th and 19th century.

Kantianism defines that all rational beings have dignity and should be respected, this means that one’s happiness is getting what one wants, signifying that contentment is not to do the right thing, but it is pleasure without pain. In his book ‘The Metaphysical Principles of Virtue’, Kant defines happiness as the “continuous well-being, enjoyment of life, complete satisfaction with one’s condition”. He explains his perspective on the subject by saying one will be content when all his needs and desires are fulfilled . Kant describes morality as the categorical imperative. This states that for one to act morally is to do good, and for one to do good is to act morally. Therefore, unlike other philosophical theories about morality, that state the relativity of morality with happiness, Kantianism does not, it states that it is one thing to be moral (to do good) and another thing to be happy (do what one wants). This is because what one wants can be either good or evil, and morality depends on what one does, not on their wanting .

Utilitarianism is known to be the most powerful and persuasive perspective to philosophical ethics. This aspect wasn’t developed completely until the 19th century when the classical utilitarians, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill identified the Principle of Utility. It states that happiness is the only good. Moreover, utility is defined as usefulness, thus doing something is useful and leads to happiness it is a good act in a rational being. But when one does something that is done for his own pleasure and is decreasing the happiness of someone else, it is not considered as good will. Utilitarianism follows a form of consequentialism, this means that the moral worth of an action is only determined by its outcome, thus if an outcome of an action is beneficial it is considered to be a good act, while if something results in a negative outcome, it is a bad act . Jeremy Bentham made up a method to calculate the different types of pleasure and pain on the evaluation of the action’s consequences; it is called the Bentham’s Hedonic Calculus. He believed that with the help of this method rational being are able to make sensible decisions. This calculus involved 7 criteria including: duration, intensity, if it’s near or remote, how widely does it cover, what is its probability, how free of pain is it and if it leads to further pleasure. John Stuart Mill created the principle of Rule Utilitarianism. It states that an action is good if its leads to greater good and happiness of the common as the principle of utility holds that everyone’s’ happiness should be considered and everyone should be treated equally.

One can come to an understanding that, while both Kantianism and Utilitarianism state that acts that one does that leads to their happiness are good acts, but then Kantianism disagrees with Utilitarianism in terms of morality. Kant believed that morality is based on the person’s intentions, if one has a good will and intends to go good, that is all that matters. On the other hand, Utilitarianism states that morality is based upon the outcome of the action, therefore if the result is right for the greater good (majority of the people) it is a rightful action .

From my point of view, I believe that both theories have a good understanding, but both have exceptions that do not follow the theory, but I mostly agree with the principles of Kant, where he states that the intention is moral. Regarding the aspect of both theories on happiness, I disagree with both as I believe that a good act is one that leads to happiness.

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Kant’s Categorical Imperative vs. Kierkegaard’s Notion of Faith Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

This paper will examine the conflict between Kant’s moral theory (his categorical imperative) and Kierkegaard’s notion of faith. It will defend Kant’s claim against Kierkegaard’s theory that faith is not a legitimate reason to disregards morality. The reason of why Kant’s ideas are preferable to me is that the categorical imperative allows to define what actions are obligatory and which ones should be forbidden and to choose the way that is more correct and not contradictory to moral norms and society.

Immanuel Kant is considered to be one of the greatest and the most famous German philosophers of the 18th century. He created a truly widespread theory that influences society even now. His moral theory and his categorical imperative remain one of the central philosophical concepts of all the times. In 1785, this great philosopher introduced Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals.

One of the purposes of this work was to help people get a clear understanding of what moral principles are all about in order to avert possible distractions. Lots of people may say that Kant’s ideas are something that is really hard to comprehend. However, his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals is not that difficult to analyze in comparison to the works of some other philosophers.

Kant’s moral theory is based on the concept of good will. Moral knowledge is something that has lots of powers and should be a prior for all humankind. Without any doubts, Kant’s moral theory is rather complex, but at the heart of this theory, the only principle may be found; it is the categorical imperative. The idea of the categorical imperative lies in the fact that one may determine someone’s duty and decide what principles are proper and which ones are not.

“The imperative thus says which action possible by me would be good, and represents a practical rule in relation to a will that does not straightaway do an action just because it is good, partly because the subject does not always know that it is good, partly because, even if he knows this, his maxims could still be opposed to the objective principles of a practical reason.” (Kant and Gregor, 1998)

According to Kant, a maxim is one of the guiding principles of any action. With the help of maxims, people get a clear understanding of what should be done, and even how these things need to be done. Immanuel Kant was one of those believers, who proved that any person has the right to make choices. Freedom and reasons of actions are the two things, which distinguish people from animals, and we should lose this characteristic.

People just have to be free in order to be ready to perform all our duties. If people do not believe that they have enough freedom, they cannot be able to complete their duties, this is why the verb “have to” may be changed into “can or cannot”. People should give promises only in cases they are absolutely sure about their words and may keep them. Otherwise, if the words are not kept, and human promises are false, human life turns out to be senseless and all the beliefs are not true.

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard is another philosopher, who offered his ideas concerning faith, duties, and responsibility. In comparison to Kant’s rationalism, Kierkegaard is regarded to be an absurd thinker, who believes in subjectivism of ethics. In fact, Kierkegaard was one of the Kant’s followers.

He used Kant’s ideas as a basis for his own inquiry of faith. Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling is one of the best examples, which demonstrate his grounding on Kant’s ideas and standpoints. This Danish philosopher and, at the same time, a devoted theologian tries to prove that faith is not a simple formula, but something that people should reach only after certain divine inquiries are satisfied.

According to Kierkegaard, faith is a kind of leap to the absurd. People should trust upon something and believe in it. However, this something cannot possible be. This is why Kierkegaard’s notion of faith may be considered as rather paradoxical.

“A paradox enters in and a humble courage is required to grasp the whole of the temporal by virtue of the absurd, and this is the courage of faith. By faith Abraham did not renounce his claim upon Isaac, but by faith he got Isaac.” (Kierkegaard, 2008)

In this story about Abraham, Kierkegaard introduces this character as someone, who does not want to accept universal ethical principles in order to demonstrate his devotion to God. Abraham’s faith makes him break all those ethical norms; and this is what create an absurd line in the story.

Of course, it is quite possible to find some points in Kierkegaard’s story to admire. However, his extremism and idea that personal promise to the divine is the only thing that may glorify God cannot be considered as the most absurd things inherent to people. Kierkegaard does not show how exactly human belief in God may be absurd. He uses the word ‘absurd’ so many times, however, does not catch its uniqueness and make it an ordinary word.

This is why the faith, presented by Kierkegaard, may be called as the paradoxical nature of faith. This philosopher does not have any reservation about dealing with the things he calls absurd. However, at the same time, faith seems to be an eminently paradox, where a person tries to isolate him/herself in the sphere that is much higher than a universe.

After I compare the ideas of two philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and Søren Kierkegaard concerning human’s faith and duty, it turns out to be rather easy to take one certain position and explain the choice. People truly believe that God is absolute. He has enough powers to control any situation and be fair.

Both Kant and Kierkegaard present lots of arguments in order to prove their points of view. Their arguments also have certain drawbacks, but Kant’s position and his rational belief provides us, ordinary people, with better opportunity to understand deeper the relations between religion and ethics.

Kierkegaard’s notion of faith may be considered as a bit weak because it is based on the principle of divine revelation and the idea that clear interaction between ethics and faith may be hardly found out at all. Without any doubts, people just cannot leave without a thought that something may control their lives somehow and show the necessary ways out. However, the idea of the right of choice is crucial indeed.

We should take certain actions and believe in the things, which will not hurt other people and destroy their future. People should be free and, at the same time, have something to believe in. However, all those believes should not stay on the way to clear understanding of this life and its essence. People are unique creatures, who have a wonderful opportunity to choose.

This is what Kant tells about in his work. His universalism and ethical system are clearly detached from human relations and their abilities in accordance with moral principles, which are inherent to all people. This is why interaction that happens between humans and the experience they get play a very important role and help to realize that freedom is much more significant than faith and any other concepts offered by different philosophers.

Kant’s moral theory is rather deontological: human actions may be considered as right ones only in virtue of their real motives. These motives should be derived from duties, people promise to complete. According to Kant, people should think and choose taking into consideration their faith and moral principles, which are also called maxims.

Kierkegaard has another, not less interesting position about human’s duties and faith, however, his ideas turn out to be rather absurd and face numerous drawbacks. Of course, the theories presented by either Kierkegaard or Kant are quite inadequate: they neglect the idea of interpersonal relations and do not pay too much attention that such interactions may be rather important for formulation of moral issues.

This is why Kant’s ideas are closer to society and may be fixed in accordance with new preferences and interests. People always have a chance to perform the functions of responsible agents, but it remains crucially important to consider moral principles, which are obtained by society.

Reference List

Kant, I. & Gregor, M. J. (1998). Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Cambridge University Press.

Kierkegaard, S. (2008). Fear and Trembling. Wilder Publications.

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Immanuel Kant Ethics Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Introduction

Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher argued that some forms of actions like lying and murder among others were proscribed regardless of the outcome of the actions. His theory is a deontological moral theory whereby, “the rightness or wrongness of actions does not depend on their consequences but on whether they fulfill our duty” (Aune 12). Kant held that there existed a sovereign rationale of morality in what he terms as Imperatives.

The Ethics

According to Kant’s imperatives, “an imperative is a command; for instance, ‘pay your taxes!’ is an imperative, as are ‘stop kicking me!’ and ‘Don’t kill animals!’ (Kant 49).

However, these imperatives come in categories, viz. hypothetical and categorical. Hypothetical imperatives give conditional commands; for instance, “If you want to go to medical school, study biology in college” (Kant 57). Therefore, if the subject of this command does not want to attend a medical school, this instruction is irrelevant. On the other hand, categorical imperative gives unconditional commands.

For instance, “Don’t cheat on your taxes” (Kant 57). In this context, even if one wants to evade taxes he or she should not do so. Therefore, moral aspects must be defined by the categorical imperatives for the basic reasoning that people are commanded by morality and they cannot choose to take it or leave it; they have to abide to its requirements.

Kant stipulates that categorical imperative will work when people “Act only on that maxim through which they can at the same time will that it should become a universal law [of nature]” (Kant 60). This is a rule of nature whereby people should do unto others how they would love others to do to them. For example, if someone expects others to love him, then he or she should be ready to love them.

Actions can never be morally worthy; they can only be right, or wrong. Morals are not attached to actions but to a person. However, one’s actions determine whether he or she is morally worthy or not. Kant argues that, “a person is good or bad depending on the motivation of their actions and not on the goodness of the consequences of those actions” (78).

Motivation here refers to the drive behind actions. If the drive or motivation is morally upright, then a person is morally worthy. Likewise, if the motivation is not morally right, then a person is not morally worth. Actions are dependent on something else; they sprout from something else; that is motivation, therefore, actions cannot make someone morally worth or unworthy.

To expound the issue of motivation, Kant considers an individual who has won a lottery and decides to give all his fortunes to charity work to feel good about it. Kant posits that, this individual is not morally worthy because the motivation was not out of duty but a selfish quest. “Moral worth only comes when you do something because you know that it is your duty and you would do it regardless of whether you liked it” (Kant 84).

To Kant, consequences are insignificant because without motivation, there would be no consequences. Moreover, one may have the wrong motivation and get right or good results. For instance, if two drunken people drive recklessly and unfortunately, one of them runs over a pedestrian while the other does not, they are both morally unworthy because the motivation behind their actions was wrong.

Unfortunately, people interpret morality wrongly. Supposing the man who won the lottery gives the money with the right motivation of helping destitute children; unfortunately, a gang realizes that the children have food; raid the place killing all the children and making away with all food. In such a case, the man who gave the money is morally worthy because his intentions were right. This argument renders consequences void and they cannot be used as parameters of gauging morality.

In contrast to what many critics think, Kant does not veto felicity. One can do something to be happy as long as it is moral. Kant says, “you ought to do things to make yourself happy as long as you make sure that they are not immoral (i.e., contrary to duty), and that you would refrain from doing them if they were immoral… a good person is someone who always does their duty because it is their duty” (99). To be good one must be or do “good” for the sake of “goodness.”

Nevertheless, Kant’s theory has several loopholes. For instance, Kant posits that, people could lie if “It is permissible to lie” (121) and anything short of this requirement should not be allowed. In the light of this argument, all people would become liars hence robbing people of trust. Therefore, people should never lie, in principle.

Taking Kant to be true, a person would rather let his or her friend die even if lying would save the situation. This maxim becomes inconsequential because even killing would be allowed as long as the motive is right like self-defense. Kant cannot justify this fact.

Conclusion

Kantian ethics are complicated given the maxims that he employs to explain his imperatives. Kant believes that people cannot be morally worthy by their actions. Actions can never justify one’s moral worthiness because actions are a result of motives. Therefore, motives behind any action determine one’s moral worthiness.

To explain this he uses two forms of imperatives viz. conditional and categorical. Conditional imperatives change based on one’s stand concerning the condition in question. On the other hand, categorical imperatives are absolute and universal independent of one’s take on the situation in question. Nevertheless, Kant’s theories have loopholes because by his definition, killing would be justifiable.

Works Cited

Aune, Bruce. “Kant’s Theory of Morals.” New Jersey: Princeton Publishers, 1979.

Kant, Immanuel. “Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.” Abbot, Thomas & Lara, Denis.

Eds. Ottawa; Library and Archives Canada, 2005.

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Kant’s Critique of Judgment Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Outline

The purpose of this paper is to analyze critically the concept of the sublime as presented by Immanuel Kant in his work ‘The Critique of Judgment’.

After reviewing what the philosopher says about the sublime and putting his perspective into context by briefly looking at how he addresses aestheticism and beauty, the paper will take a closer look at how Kant sub-categorizes the sublime aesthetic sublime experience. The two categories of sublime aesthetic experience shall be reviewed further, giving Kant’s opinion on what it means to have a sublime aesthetic experience.

The paper will have a conclusion in which I will give my own opinion on why I agree or disagree with Kant’s elaboration of the sublime.

Introduction

There is the common English saying ‘beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’. What one man deems to be beautiful, and moves him to awe, would leave another man just as indifferent and untouched. What is beauty, what element of a thing determines that it is beautiful hand renders another ugly?

These must have been the questions Immanuel Kant asked himself, though probably in more abstruse philosophical terms when he set out to write his treatise ‘Critique on Judgment’. This text has remained intriguing for philosophers and none philosophers alike for over two centuries now, and is considered pivotal in the study of aesthetics.

In this text, Kant addresses two primary issues: beauty – what I term as surface appeal- and the more complex concept of the sublime, and how judgment and reason play into the understanding and appreciation of beauty. Kant argues that judgment, or the rational faculties, have to be applied in the appreciation of beauty.

This is because there are basic tenets that apply to appreciating the aesthetic in any form, then there has to be a method to it; this method is what is based in reason, and this is what gives beauty its universality. Kant uses his discussions on the universal principles that govern the appreciation of art and the sublime to elucidate on human judgment in general (Kant 27).

It is interesting to note that with the study of aesthetics Kant attempts to bring together the two aspects of philosophy: the theoretical and the practical. Kant postulates that it is actually judgment that is the bridge between these two aspects of philosophy (Kant 15).

The concept of the sublime according to Kant’s ‘Analytic of the Sublime’ from his ‘Critique of Judgment’

While beauty is limited to those objects that have form, with how well defined this form determining to a large extent how beautiful the object is considered to be, the aesthetically sublime covers even those objects without form (Kant 61).

Kant looks at the dark side of the aesthetic experience, and uses the term ‘sublime’ to describe it. Ordinarily, when one thinks of an aesthetic experience, the focus is on the good and the pleasurable. However, Kant studies aspects of the natural world that overwhelm us, and instill a sense of fear. The sublime is that which overwhelms us, not only in the physical sense (Kant 62).

Kant categorizes experience of the sublime broadly into two: there is the dynamic sublime, where the viewer is faced with the violent forces of nature but with the surety that he/she can conquer these forces, or cannot be touched by them, and hence the viewer can derive a certain pleasure from the experience despite the fear. Secondly, there is the ‘mathematical’ sublime, where the viewer focuses on the physical magnitude of the object under observation, and magnitude is measured strictly in physical units (Kant 64).

Sublimity does not originate from the natural object in question, but rather from the feelings of the viewer towards the object. The sublime has more to do with the viewer, what goes on in his/her mind, than what is being viewed (Kant 65).

When one has an experience that is mathematically sublime, says Kant, the object is physically large, like a mountain or a really tall building. The dynamically sublime is that which might or might not be physically large but which exerts a force on the viewer which is not necessarily a physical force (Kant 65).

As Kant asserts, mathematical measurements do not take account of the aesthetic quantity of an object, and thus the magnitude of an object cannot be determined simply on a physical mathematical scale. The aesthetic measure must be considered as well, and this measure is still bound to be limited within units that are comprehensible by human reason, so that the largest unit marks the limits of the measurement of how aesthetically huge an object is (Kant 75).

Thus, in Kant’s view, the dynamically sublime is of more importance than the mathematically sublime. It is the former that moves the viewer, and that shows an active interaction between what the viewer perceives, and his/her judgment (Kant 77).

The moments of the experience of the sublime, and the subcategories of sublime aesthetic experience

The first moment in the experience of the sublime as explicated by Kant is that an aesthetic judgment has to be disinterested; disinterest here means that the viewer, finds pleasure in the object after judging it beautiful, not finding the object beautiful because of the pleasure it brings.

If we are to apply disinterest in this line, a thoroughbred horse would not be found beautiful for the pleasure of galloping off at incredible speeds and high jumps, but for its physical attributes. Disinterest means that beauty does not have to be functional. Kant asserts that if disinterest is to be applied, then the focus in considering objects aesthetically should be on the form of the object, and not on aspects of the object that would lead to a deeper connection, meaning interest (Kant 92).

The second moment in the experience of the sublime as Kant explains rests on the fact that there are universal rules of what is aesthetically appealing, though there are no universal rules as to how an aesthetic state can be achieved. This is because rational thought is applied in reaching the conclusion of what object is aesthetically appealing, same as is applied to morality, which is also universal.

Thus, it is expected that what one person will find aesthetically appealing will also be appealing to a majority. It is a difficult concept to grasp because it goes against the conventional grain of the viewer determining whether he/she finds an object aesthetically appealing or not (Kant 93).

The third moment introduces the concepts of ‘end’ and ‘finality’, or purpose and purposiveness. Kant elaborates that an object can have a purpose, the purpose being the functional reason for which it was made. Purposiveness on the other hand implies that the object might not have any constructive use, but remains of value.

The aestheticism of an object does not include the external purpose- the utility for which the object was built, or the internal purpose- what the object is intended to be like. If an object is judged on the basis of its utility, then its purpose will be determined on how well it does the job. On the other hand, if it is judged based on how close it is to a preconceived notion of how it is meant to look, then the purpose will be perfection(Kant 93).

The fourth moment in Kant’s text, as regards the sublime is that aesthetic judgments must be found necessary. Here, Kant is trying to define the parameters within which objects are judged and why it is necessary to notice the aesthetic in an object, a truly daunting task. Kant refers to these grounds as common sense, meaning the shared sense of the beautiful in an object by different viewers, or in other words-taste (Kant 94).

Yet, as Kant points out, the purpose of beauty is not how useful an object is or how close it comes to being perfect. He charges that the sole aim of beauty, at least in the natural world, its purposiveness is dependent on human judgment, without having a specified purpose.

The most beneficial aspect of the judgment of the sublime in regards to the subject undergoing this experience

Kant states that the importance experiencing the dynamically sublime in nature is because it elevates a man to another level of fortitude that is beyond the narrow perception of what men are used to. Experiencing the dynamically sublime equals experiencing a total freedom, because the viewer transcends the fear that is the first instinctive reaction to forces of such magnitude in nature (Kant 79).

Kant states that beauty is a symbol of moral uprightness, since people seek beauty with the same fervor that they seek moral uprightness. It is almost an innate sense in man to seek things of beauty. Beauty inspires goodness in man, and binds him closer to his own moral code. This is another benefit on one undergoing the aesthetically sublime experience.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that Kant’s study on aestheticism has been central in shaping later concepts of aestheticism to date. That said, there are aspects of his rationale with which I am not in total agreement.

In the natural world, it is easier for the concept of disinterest as Kant defines it to come into play. However, in regards to fine art, art made by man, then this art cannot be totally separated from politics. Though an artist might primarily create a work of art for its aesthetic quality, more often than not, this is not the only reason. There must have been thought that inspired the artist into action of creating his or her piece of work.

Therefore, the artwork has a utility; it makes a statement that the artist wishes to express. Those who observe this artwork will inherently infer the artist’s intended meaning, beyond looking at the work just for its aesthetic appeal. In this sense, no total disinterest can be maintained.

Kant makes a strong point for how the aesthetic contributes towards understanding human judgment, and how the sublime in nature is tied up with the man’s moral uprightness, as well as his awareness of himself.

In the argument presented in Kant’s first moment, he states that the focus on should be on form to maintain that disinterest, but the aesthetic experience must involve all the senses. We cannot ignore some aspects of the object because we have to observe the object in its totality; it has depth, tone, color and texture. If we focus on certain aspects of the object that are centered around the form, we are not perceiving the object in full, thus we are not experiencing its full aesthetic value.

Works Cited

Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Judgement. Cosimo Publishing: New Jersey. 2007. Print.

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John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant on Morality Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Introduction

In life, people face many challenges some of which they are supposed to make crucial decisions especially on moral issues. Unfortunately, one may make a decision that would haunt him/her for the rest of his/her life. The issue of distinguishing ‘good’ from bad in moral circles has been a controversial area probably due to lack of standards of defining ‘good’ or bad. What may seem as good to one party may be bad to the other.

Does this mean ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’ is relative? Well, to answer this, we might consider analyzing a moral dilemma that a very close friend of mine underwent during the post election violence that rocked Kenya after the 2007 general elections. This paper uses Kant and Mill’s moral principles to give insight to this moral dilemma that George, my friend from Kenya had to go through, the decisions he made and eventualities thereafter.

The Moral Dilemma

I met George in January 2007 in England where he had come to study and we became very good friends. One thing I remember George could not avoid talking about was the coming general elections back in Kenya later in the year. He kept on saying that half of the then current members of parliament would not get re-election.

As we broke for Christmas holidays, George left for Kenya at least to be part of this phenomenal exercise that comes once in five years. In the early morning of 28th December, news started trickling in that not all went well with the Kenyan general elections. To my chagrin, news had it that violence has broken out throughout the nation. I could not stop thinking of George, as my efforts to reach him over the phone were futile.

As schools reopened in January 2009, I could not wait to meet George. He arrived late; however, he was a different person. He looked withdrawn and as I hugged him, I could feel bitterness in his heart coupled with guilt written in his face. He refused to divulge any information but after I coerced him for long, he gave in, given that I was his confidant. What he told me left me gasping and I could not offer any assistance, not at that time. This is George’s story cum moral dilemma.

George told me that after hell broke loose in Kenya, different communities attacked each other especially in Rift Valley province where there has been unrest since independent Kenya. Police could not contain the situation and rowdy youths took to streets to protest what they termed as ‘rigged’ elections. In the middle of this melee, people started rooting and killing innocent people as family members watched.

George was not spared. A hard knock at their front house awakened him from deep sleep after a day full of errands. He knew something was wrong when he rushed to sitting room only to find his mother and father bundled at the corner of the house. With rowdy youths baying for blood, George pleaded with them to spare his parent’s life. They agreed to do so; however, they would only spare one parent and George had to choose.

He painfully preferred his mother to his father and he watched his father hacked to death. Unfortunately, in the scrimmage, George had to run for his life and by the time he came back to England he had not heard about his mother; they were separated. After staying in England for eight months, George told me that he could not continue with his studies and he had to leave for Kenya. He left on September 4, 2009.

I never heard from him until December the same year when I learnt from a family friend that George had committed suicide for he could not bear the guilt of choosing who was to die between his parents. From a moral perspective, George was in a moral dilemma; unfortunately, he had to make choice or risk losing both parents. Did George make the right decision? Answers to this question could come from Kant and Mill’s moral principles.

Kant and Mill on Morality

According to Mill, “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (Mill Para. 4). Taken from this perspective, George was right in choosing his mother to live. Making no choice would result to George losing both parents and this would be wrong for it brings sadness. Given the situation that George was in, choosing one parent was the only ‘good’ thing he would do for it would bring ‘happiness.’

Therefore, it was in best interest that he made a choice in the first place. Kant on his part argues that, “actions are moral if and only if they are undertaken for the sake of morality alone…the moral quality of an action is judged not according to the action’s consequences, but according to the motive that produced it.

Finally, actions are moral if and only if they are undertaken out of respect for the moral law” (Kant 16). Taken from Kant’s argument, George’s actions were moral because his motive was to spare one of his parents than losing both.

Morality stands out clearly in this case because George did not have the best option; he only had a better one and that is what he went for. The question here is not whether to kill or not to kill, it about to kill two people or one. Given the fact that killing is ‘immoral’ George did the only moral thing, to kill one person than two.

Conclusion

The issue of morality remains a controversial issue even to date. Given the situation that George was in, he made the only logical ‘moral’ choice. Interpreted from Mill’s argument, George did a ‘good’ thing by choosing his mother over his father because at least this would bring ‘happiness’ as opposed to the pain of losing both parents.

On the other side, George’s actions would pass as moral under Kant’s judgment because the motive behind the choice he made was to save life, a moral thing. Even if George were in his parent’s shoes, he would expect them to make a choice and choose losing one child over losing two. Therefore, George’s actions were ‘moral.’

Works Cited

Kant, Immanuel. “Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals.” Translated by Paton, John. New York: Harper & Row, 1964.

Mill, John. “Utilitarianism.” N.d Web. <https://www.utilitarianism.com/mill1.htm>

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Kant’s Moral Philosophy in the Contemporary World Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Over the years various issues have developed in the world. Things that were once clear cut as either morally wrong or right, have become very contentious. Various philosophers have studied and proposed different ideas on the subject of morality. Kant’s moral philosophy holds that the final result of an action has no value; the value of an action lies on the motivation behind it (Kant, 3). Kant argued that there exists an unconditional and absolute requirement that all other moral obligations are based on.

In order for one to uphold the highest moral law, his or her actions must conform to this requirement which he termed as the categorical imperative (Kant, 15). Kant’s ideology can however be seen as too simplistic when dealing with the modern society characterized by actions that cannot be easily categorized as morally right or wrong; those that may be termed as morally ambiguous.

Kant, a German philosopher, undertook a study to find the ultimate principle on morality. Kant identified three maxims that would enable one to identify morally right or wrong actions. The first maxim states that every person should act in such a manner that the action would be the right action for other people in similar situations (Kant, 14).

The second maxim states that an action is morally right if it treat others not as a means to an end but as an end in themselves (Kant, 29). The final maxim is a summation of the first two and it states that a moral action occurs when one acts as if his actions were setting a universal law that could be used by others under the same circumstances (Kant, 24).

When Kant was developing his moral philosophy, the society was mainly religious and culture played a big part in shaping how people acted. The contemporary society is however less governed by religion or culture and science (logic) plays a big part on how people make decisions or act. Actions that were previously termed morally inappropriate are under fire with people trying to understand what makes an action morally right or wrong.

Kant’s categorical imperative has three formulations that govern all moral action. These formulations can be summed up by the universality principle that states that all actions should be carried out in such a manner that they become universal laws without contradiction (Kant, 30).

This formulation in itself is too simplistic for the complicated modern society that we live in. One contentious issue in modern societies has been that of abortion. According to the requirements of categorical imperative, it would be morally wrong for a woman to carry out an abortion.

Kant argues that the moral value of an action is not based on its results but on its underlying principle and such action should be such that it can be universally adopted. As such, abortion which is mainly carried out to preserve the happiness, well-being or priorities of the woman, goes against this formulation (Denis, 548).

Kant also puts forward the principles of good will and duty. According to Kant, good will is that will that is derived from moral laws and has no qualifications (Kant, 5). Kant argued that the expected results of an action are morally neutral and not important when considering morality.

He added that good will is the only basis that the value of morality can be recognized. Kant also argued that duty determines whether an action is moral right or wrong. Kant argued that since the moral value of an action does not derive from the expected results, it must then be derived from the principle under which the action is carried out regardless of personal desires or surrounding circumstances (Kant, 7).

It is the basic human duty to populate the world and ensure the continuity of life. Abortion goes against this duty thus it must be considered morally wrong. Modern medicine has enabled deformities and complications to be identified before birth. Kant’s argument is ineffective as it would be cruel to give birth to a child who will suffer constantly or to put the life of the mother in jeopardy due to pregnancy complications (Denis, 560).

Kant’s morality principle is too simplistic and fails to take into account circumstances that have developed in the contemporary societies. Decision making in modern societies is carried out with regards to a multi-cultured society as a whole. Simplistic ground rules cannot effectively cover all situations under which an action may be undertaken. Abortion is an action involving two parties, the agent and the fetus.

The fetus cannot be deemed a rational being hence Kant may propose that laws of morality do not apply to it. However, the fetus is a part of the continuity of life and according to instinct (nature), child birth is a duty common to all. It is thus morally wrong to carry out an abortion as it goes against this duty. Kant’s philosophy cannot cover all aspects found in many contentious issues of the modern world hence it has no place in contemporary society.

Works Cited

Denis, Lara. “Abortion and Kant’s Formula of Universal Law.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37.4 (2007): 547-580

Kant, Immanuel. Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals. Trans. Jonathan Bennet. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995

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