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Explain the importance of good will in Kant's ethical theory.

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Introduction

Explain the importance of good will in Kant's ethical theory. Kant places good will at the centre of ethics, and in doing so; went beyond anything ever written before. For Kant, the supreme thing on earth is the development of a good will, and to act from a sense of duty. Kant believed that good will is the only thing that is good in all circumstances. 'It is impossible to conceive anything at all in the world, or even out of it, which can be taken as good without qualification, except a good will.' To develop a good will, we must act rationally, and we must be ruled by reason. Kant believed that if we did this, we would be acting according to God's wishes. Kant's theory directly opposes utilitarian ethics. Kant would insist we were honest (even when faced with death) Kant does not consider the end results, for example happiness for the greatest number, only the action. Before Kant, the most important moral theories were based upon Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, which asserts that whatever leads to the greatest happiness (eudaimonia) is what is moral. For Kant, 'ought' implies 'can' and therefore what we ought to do must be under our control. Kant believed that everyone possesses a conscience, a sense of right and wrong, a sense of duty. ...read more.

Middle

In addition, are any two moral dilemmas the same? Kant's theory has several advantages. It is rational and certain and does not depend on results of happiness. It is simple and a useful guide when facing a moral dilemma. However, a morality in which results are left out of account seems detached from reality. Most people do not want to take the results of their actions into account, and may feel guilty if harm comes as a result of their good intentions. Furthermore, Kant's theory will not guarantee a morally good, or even moral rule just because someone believes that a certain maxim should be universalised. Thieves might well prefer to see stealing universalised, believing they will stand to gain financially, even though their own property is at risk. How can I be sure that my maxim is right, compared to another's? The problem lies within two varying absolutes, how can we be sure which one, if either, is right? A weakness in Kant's is emphasis in telling what we ought not, rather than what we ought to do. What ends, therefore, should we have in mind? (1263 words) Evaluate the argument that Kant's moral theory could not support the idea of voluntary euthanasia. The issue of euthanasia raises the thorny problem of the relationship between law and morality. ...read more.

Conclusion

Kant fundamentally believed 'man can not have power to dispose of his life.' Therefore, euthanasia would never be permitted. However, Kant also believed in human autonomy and that people were free to make rational choices, but how does that reflect on an absolutist deontological view? If we were to legalise euthanasia, Kant believed it would be an end to human life. Would it not be possible for someone to want euthanasia if they were terminally ill and in great suffering and gold the view that ending the life of someone who is not terminally ill and in the process of dying wrong. And are we really using people as a means to an end if we allow them to practise euthanasia? Kant believed that permitting euthanasia universally would destroy our understanding of the intrinsic value of human life. However, modern philosophers disagree by saying that if we allow a few very ill people in pain to choose euthanasia; this wouldn't destroy the concept of euthanasia or life in everyone's mind, as Kant claims. It therefore, wouldn't be irrational or immoral to allow it in a few rare cases. At the face of the argument for euthanasia is that Kant was one of the most passionate advocates of human autonomy. For him, there is no value more than important than individual freedom. Indeed, freedom takes precedence over life itself. Therefore, we as humans should have the freedom and will to die with dignity and respect. Fran Ricci. 5/9/2007 1 ...read more.

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