• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Give an account of Kant(TM)s theory of ethics

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Give an account of Kant's theory of ethics - Jonathan Crawford Immanuel Kant was a philosopher who lived during the 18th century. He based his ethics around reason, not revelation, or in other words, our acts and not the results of our actions. This therefore makes his ethics deontological. This comes from the Greek root word, deon, which means duty. This is different to teleological ethics. This comes from the Greek root word, telos, which means end, or results-based ethics. Kant's deontological position provides the basis of the theories that he suggests. He says that in order to act morally, we must do our duty. Our duty is to be done irrespective of emotion, desires and situations and therefore we must not act in accordance with these. Kant argues that the only time we don't do our duty is when we can't possibly do it, but there are times when we should do something and don't because we are unable to. If we should do it then it is possible to and we must do our duty even then. Anything that is not our duty is not moral. ...read more.

Middle

Kant believes that moral statements are 'a priori synthetic'. This is because moral statements are a result of reason and not experience, but they are synthetic because they may be right or wrong. Moral statements, being synthetic, need some sort of evidence so they are may be right or wrong. They are bivalent. Kant also describes how we determine what actions are forbidden. This is known as the categorical imperative, or what we have to do. Morality is prescriptive, meaning it promotes moral behaviour, so once you know about this morality, you know why your doing this action. This is irrespective of the result, which means they are categorical. This is in contrast to hypothetical imperatives which are what we want to do, or our desires, which are not important. Behaving morally, and following our duty isn't all for nothing according to Kant. He believes that if you do your duty, you will reach the highest form of good known as good will. Once we have a good will it becomes a circle, as having a good will, means you do your duties, selflessly - not allowing emotions to get in the way. ...read more.

Conclusion

Or maybe the mother was raped, and the baby would be born into an unloving family. Kant has two answers to this. This first is that our duty is our duty. No emotions or situations should come in the way of our actions. If we let them do so, we are acting against the universal moral law and acting immorally. Kant's ethics are more concerned with the actions and not the results. So murder is always wrong. The second way he might answer this is by saying that no matter what the outcome of the event you must always do the right thing. If you use the example of a man who comes to murder your friend who is hiding inside your home. According to Kant it is the right thing to do as it is not your fault the man is misusing the information that you justifiably gave to him. This can be applied to the way the baby lives as a result of being allowed to live. So, in conclusion, it seems Kant's ethics are quite helpful; this is due to the style they are presented in. Because clear guidelines are given it is easy to apply them to situations, even though sometimes the answer may seem a bit harsh. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Situation ethics

    3 star(s)

    Only love is good in and of itself. Actions aren't intrinsically good or evil, they are good depending on whether they promote the most loving result. Secondly, "the ruling of norm Christian decision is love, nothing else." Love replaces law as Jesus broke the commandment which love demanded.

  2. Explain The Difference Between Hypothetical And Categorical Imperatives

    it only applies to some people and is, therefore, dependent upon the person it affects. There are three main formulations of the categorical imperative: act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law, so act as to treat

  1. I might believe that an action is morally right, but this does not give ...

    there is no way of knowing when you have become 'virtuous', and that all of your choices are moral. On the other hand, it could be said that virtue ethics provides a better and more 'true-to-life' way of looking at the situation of the soldier giving his life for others,

  2. Nietzsche and Mill on Conventional Morality

    Therefore we are in a situation where we rely on these masters to survive, and so can easily be exploited for their benefit. This is essentially what business is, the exploitation of others for personal gain, and we are the exploited who are fooled into the belief that if we

  1. Explain what Kant meant by 'the Categorical Imperative'

    rationality is based on judgments about the world and inferences from this. For example, if I feel very strongly about human rights issues then it would be my feelings of passion that would prompt me to campaign for freedom of speech in Burma rather than rationality that tells me what to do.

  2. outline situation ethics

    Personalism - situationists put people first, asking what to do to best help them, instead of putting laws first as a legalist would do.

  1. Plato's Theory of Forms

    He is also not very clear about how far the Forms relate to specific items in the 'world of appearances' for example do humans or animals have an ideal form that we can relate? Or do forms have to relate to specific humans or animals?

  2. Which of Kant's formulations of the categorical imperative offers the most plausible account of ...

    But a world (otherwise like our own) in which everyone acted on this maxim would be a world in which such trust will not exist. Therefore it is impossible even to conceive of a world in which everyone acts on this maxim as though by a law of nature; therefore it is wrong to act on this maxim oneself.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work