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

Kantian Ethics

Extracts from this document...


J. Ryan Stone Phil 211 1st Paper Kantian Ethics Due Date September 23 2004 Immanuel Kant sets out a basis of what we can perceive as Kantian ethics in his essay, "The Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals." Kant discusses such ideas as good will, duty, two versions of categorical imperative and autonomy. Each idea is significant and relevant to another idea. The nature of Kant's undertaking is to derive a theory of morality from pure rationality; an ethical view that should be followed because it is unreasonable not to follow. Kant wants to know what is absolutely good. As it appears to him, anything that might seem good in itself can be made part of a larger, evil plan; therefore, Kant says that there is nothing good in itself except the good will. People must look solely at the motivation for a one's action in order to determine if the action is morally good, not at the consequences. Kant says that, "...a good will is good not because of what it performs or effects." ...read more.


Act only on that maxim that one can, at the same time, will to be a universal law. If an individual thinks a certain action is correct, then it should be correct for everyone under the same circumstances, not just for the one person. Therefore, if one is impartial, that person is acting on the idea that it is irrational to prefer one's self to others; an individual is no better than anyone else is. When someone acts selfishly, that person is making themselves an exception; yet the same person also thinks that the general rule should hold for others (or most of the time), "we actually acknowledge the validity of the categorical imperative." The second formulation of the categorical imperative is, "So act as to treat humanity, whether in thine own person or in that of any other, in every case as an end withal, never as a means only." Kant is saying do not treat people as if they were mere objects, existing only to serve your own ends. They should be treated as if their goals and desires are just as important as yours. ...read more.


To begin with, it does not make sense that actions could be judged solely on motives. Should it not also follow that consequences are important? Kant argues, for example, that one ought to keep promises because, otherwise, promises do not mean anything. Is that not, in some way, looking at the consequences? Is there not something wrong with saying that morality should ever be concerned with the consequences? Is motivation all that ultimately matters? Subsequently, Kant does not provide any standards for the level of specificity of the maxim. Thus, may a person be able to "universalize" maxims that are clearly immoral as long as one can never be in the position of the person harmed? What about Kant's example of promises? One could agree that he or she cannot universalize breaking promises whenever it is to the promise-giver's advantage to do so, but what about when an individual could universalize the maxim that whenever one can save a life of another by breaking a promise then should one do so? As a final point, Kant's theory does not protect against a completely distorted view of the world or personal sincerely held prejudices. ...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 Practical Questions 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 Practical Questions essays

  1. `Always tell the truth and Always keep your promises' Kant's Categorical Imperative.

    As Kant says, 'If the will seeks the law which is to determine it anywhere else than in the fitness of its maxims to be universal laws of its own dictation, consequently if it goes out of itself and seeks this law in the character of any of its objects (e.g.

  2. Business Ethics

    Dr. Mohammad Adam Bakar, Maisarah Mohamed Saat, Ainun Hj. Abd. Majid, 2002) Ethical problems facing accountants are many but mainly related to the tension due to the need to satisfy clients and to protect the interests of the investing public - investors, creditors and regulatory authorities.

  1. Kantian Ethics and Universal Maxims

    represents the combination of virtue and happiness. * Everyone seeks the Summum Bonum. * What is sought must be achievable because the universe is fair. * The Summum Bonum is not achievable in this life. * So it is necessary to postulate a life after death which the Summum Bonum can be achieved.

  2. The Ethical Debate Concerning Cloning.

    In this case to preserve the professional confidence, which the parents insist on, could be to victimize the children, their spouses, and their offspring. If the patient remains unchanged in his attitude, a medical ethics of compassion would require the renal service staff to violate the medical convention against disclosures.

  1. Utilitarianism VS Kantian Deontological Ethics

    Indeed, it seems that it need not serve a purpose at all. However, critics of utilitarianism claim that it suffers from a number of problems. Many of the early utilitarians hoped that happiness could somehow be measured quantitatively and compared between people in order that the action that maximised happiness in one particular situation could be fixed.

  2. What does being good mean for Kant.

    Kant argued that duty and reason can help to guide people's emotions, so that they are not ruled by them. For Kant, being good means having a good will.

  1. Philosophy and Ethics: A look at Confucianism and Taoism and their Affects on the ...

    This process is repeated until the soul achieves the ultimate goal - Tao. Once Tao is obtained, life on earth as a physical being is able to be transcended. In Western culture, Taoism would not flourish because western culture places too much emphasis on the desire and need to be number one.

  2. The Dreamings as being fundamental to Aboriginal cultures & societies

    occupatn, Terra Nulius is erased. ( 1993 ( Native Title Act, confirming Mabo Decisn - set up tribunal to mediate claims - est.'d Indigenous Land Fund - provided Right to Negotiate (Native Title holders consulted prior to govt. planning) ( 1996 ( Wik Decisn - est.'d concept of co-existence b/w native title & land held under pastoral lease.

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