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Morality is rational and objective - discuss

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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