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Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of Kantian Ethics.

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  • Essay length: 1369 words
  • Submitted: 08/03/2004
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AS and A Level Practical Questions

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Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of Kantian Ethics.

Kantian ethics originates in the ethical writings of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), which remain the most influential attempt to justify universal ethical principles that respect the dignity and equality of human beings without assuming theological claims or a metaphysical conception of the good. Kant's systematic, critical philosophy centres on an account of reasoning about action, which he uses to justify principles of duty and virtue and an account of the relationship between morality and hope.

Both Kant's ethics and contemporary Kantian ethics have been widely criticized for preoccupation with rules and duties, and for lack of concern with virtues, happiness or personal relationships. However, these criticisms may apply more to recent Kantian ethics than to Kant's own ethics.

Kant's main writing on ethics and politics can be found in, The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals 1785; throughout these writings he insists that we cannot obtain ethical conclusions from metaphysical or theological knowledge of the good or from a claim that human happiness is the sole good. We lack the basis for a teleological account of ethical reasoning, which therefore cannot be simply a matter of mean

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