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Explain Kant's theory of Duty as the basis for morality

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Introduction

Explain Kant's theory of Duty as the basis for morality. (33) Kant (1724-1804) lived a totally uneventful life in Kļæ½nigsberg, East Prussia and was a key figure in the European Enlightenment. He was influenced by the scientist known for discovering gravity, Isaac Newton. Kant viewed the universe in a very mechanistic way, i.e., things operated according to fixed rules and emphasised the pre-eminence of reason as an authority for knowledge. It was this emphasis on reason that lead him towards his deontological theory, therefore he was concerned with the actions, not the consequences. Kant's theory is deontological because it's based on duty. To act morally is to do one's duty, and one's duty is to obey the moral law. Kant believed that we should not be influenced by feeling and inclination, we should not act out of love or compassion but only out of duty. He also believed that it isn't out duty to do thing were unable to do. For Kant, the pure fact the we ought to do something implies that it is actually possible. Moral statements are said to be prescriptive, they prescribe an action. An 'ought' implies a 'can'. ...read more.

Middle

The statement is also a priori which means that its truth is known independent of experience, we do not have to undertake a survey to determine that 'all spinsters are females are true'. A statement is synthetic if the predicate is not included in the subject and therefore it firstly tells us something about the subject which we wouldn't not otherwise know and secondly it may or may not be true. For instance, 'all bachelors are happy'. This statement is also a posteriori because it is based on experience, in other words we would have to undertake a survey of bachelors to decide whether it is true. Kant argued that all moral concepts have their origin a priori. Almost every statement is either a priori analytic or a posteriori synthetic, but Kant considered that statements about the moral law ere very unusual in that they were a priori synthetic. In other words, they were a priori (independent of experience) but they were also, synthetic not analytically or necessarily true). This placed Kant in direct opposition to utilitarians, who consider the consequences of an action (experience) as fundamental in deciding what is moral. If a murderer asked us whether our friend, who he was pursuing, was hiding in our house, Kant would insist we were honest. ...read more.

Conclusion

I may act out of kindness, generosity or compassion, but in these circumstances, the act confers virtue on me. Even if duty demanded the same action, but it was done for a motive, such compassion, then my act may be good but I'm not virtuous for doing it. If I give money to a beggar because duty demands it, then I'm virtuous for doing so. This makes Kant seem rather strict and uninterested in human emotions. In fact, he argued that duty and reason can help to guide our emotions, so that we aren't rules by them. A butcher acts with a good will if he charges his customers a fair price because it is right to do so, not because he knows they will go elsewhere if he doesn't. A moral person must be a rational being. Being good means having a good will. A good will is when I do my duty for the sake of duty alone. I do my duty because it's right, and for no other reason. Kant is described as having produced a system of ethics based on reason and not intuition, as he wished to establish a similarly regular and predictable basis for ethical decision making, and used reason because it is innate in every one and when properly applies, it reaches the same conclusions. ?? ?? ?? ?? Char Ayoub ...read more.

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