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

Morality is rational and objective - discuss

Extracts from this document...


According to Kant morality is rational and objective. It is based on rational human reasoning. For Kant it is not the consequences of an action that make it moral but the reasoning or intention that goes behind the choices one makes. What Kant is saying is that the only thing which can be qualified as good is good intention. When the intention behind an action is good, (what Kant calls the Good Will) then the act is morally plausible because it is being done out of duty. The will in this sense is seen as the power of rationale behind a moral choice and out of this is borne the dignity of man. On the other hand, acting out of inclination (emotions) is not moral because it is either based on self interest or because one is bound to do so by his conscience. Acting out of duty in Kant's point of view is acting in respect to the moral law which is determined by what he calls the "Categorical Imperative". The Categorical Imperative is bound by three basic principles which state that before an action takes place there is the need to consider the maxim on which one is acting. If this maxim is generalized, would it continue to make sense? Does it contradict itself? Would you choose to live in a world where everyone follows this maxim? ...read more.


Kobby is a glutton, very mean and selfish. He's also walking down the same streets of Accra eating his favorite fruit cake (of which he has eaten a little over half) freshly baked from the bakery. Kobby sees this same old man and realizes that if he does not give this old man some food, he'll probably die in the next few seconds. Kobby hesitates but eventually gives out his cake to the old man. According to Kant, Kobby's actions are moral because they were not out of inclination but out of the duty. The intention behind the action is to ensure that a fellow human being who is also entitled to food for sustenance and life is preserved. He is basically acting on the maxim "Share and give to the needy" if this maxim was to be generalized, it would perfectly enhance peace and equity in society. Secondly the idea is conceivable. Such a maxim treats the old man as an end because Kobby saw him as being entitled to the basic necessities of life and in giving him food helped preserve his humanity. Hence, it is possible to act on such a maxim and for Kant, this is moral. At the heart of Kant's argument is that ultimately people act out of self-interest for one reason or the other and that actions based on emotions or inclinations are not moral because there was no reasoning behind them. ...read more.


In the first principle of the Categorical Imperative Kant states that 'Only act on a maxim that you could will should become a universal law'. Our culture, nurturing and experiences inevitably formulate and mould the way we act to situations and circumstances. Morality cannot be universally objective as Kant says. It could however be socially or culturally objective. Society and culture form the basis of moral law. After all whoever will be passing judgment on our actions are the people in our societies because most of these laws are unwritten. Hence to act in such a way that your maxim may become a universal law could be misleading. The issue of morality is an abstract one and not yet universally definable. However, what is clear and specific is the fact that man is a rational being and usually acts to ensure self preservation or a better well-being for himself directly or indirectly. Therefore, even though most of us believe that we act out of genuine compassion for our fellow man, we do so after thinking of what the actions will yield. As such Kant may be justified to an extent in saying that most of our action are carried out in self -interest. More so it can be said that there exist a significant minority of people who can be said to have achieved a higher sense of morality and as such do things without reasoning or a sense of duty to moral law but out of what they personally believe to be right or wrong. ...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. Explain Kant(TM)s moral argument for the existence of God and Kant was wrong to ...

    So just because as humans we believe our idea of morality should be rewarded with virtue doesn't mean that it actually is. Furthermore 'ought' relies on judgement, whether something ought or ought not to happen is at the discretion of the person deciding.

  2. Deontology - looking for an objective basis to ground all moral action.

    Deontology therefore consists of two strands - identifying what is permissible and what is impermissible. Immanuel Kant's theory of ethics is considered deontological for several different reasons.

  1. "Humanitarian intervention, which is ruled out by realism and the morality of states, can ...

    In order for intervention to count as humanitarian, at least part of the basic reason for intervening must be to end suffering or oppression, though there might be other reasons which also motivate, for example national interest."2 However, humanitarian intervention, as suggested by the title of this essay, is ruled out by the morality of states.

  2. Evaluate Korsgaard's discussion of the Universalizability Argument. In what ways does she conform with ...

    Social roles and identity must harmonize with the moral identity. In this case, to identify a set of moral principles to guide moral identity is a first-level point also for the social identity. But moral identity should be regarded as independent to all social identity.

  1. Self-interest plays no part in genuine morality

    A maxim means ground rule or principle. So I treat everyone as I would like to be treated by them. His second principle is telling us to not treat people as means to an end. That means that we should not use anyone as our means to an end.

  2. Anaylse of the critiques of Religion and Morality.

    However, Dawkins adds that religion acts as a 'memetic virus'; this meaning, as with a virus, it may not be completely be beneficial, but simply has a higher success rate in replicating. This characterized as the result of faith, which is defines as 'blind trust, in the absence of evidence,

  1. Explain the differences between absolute and relative morality. 'Relativist theories give no convincing reason ...

    the absolute rules in the Bible, including the Ten Commandments, in order to get in to heaven to be with God. The aim is clear: follow this clear, absolute and unchanging theory of morality and you will be rewarded. But relativism is a lot less clear.

  2. Critically discuss Nietzsches idea that his new morality would be beyond good and evil.

    Moreover, we can rarely understand the motives behind any given action ? it is better to talk about character (?nobility?)

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