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"People should always do their duty". Explain how Kant understood this concept.

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Introduction

"People should always do their duty". Explain how Kant understood this concept. Immanuel Kant was an eighteenth century German philosopher, who lived all of his life in the town of Konigsberg, East Prussia. Kant belied that the only way we can make selfless, rational moral decisions is by acting out of a sense of duty. Kant was troubled by the apparent inconsistency between the findings if the physical sciences in his day, and that of the accepted moral and religious attitudes and doctrines of his contempories. What particularly concerned Kant was the fact that everything that occurred in the natural sciences could be explained by the use of strict laws, whereas human beings appeared to behave in a relatively chaotic and unpredictable manor when faced with moral decisions? ...read more.

Middle

the square having four sides, is part of the definition of the subject, "square". As well as being necessarily true, an analytic statement is purely explicative, as it tells us nothing new about the subject. By contrast, a synthetic statement is one in which the predicate is not included in the definition of the subject and thus is not necessarily true. A synthetic statement also tells us something new the subject. Prior to Kant, it was widely accepted that there were only two types of statement: a priori analytic and a posteriori synthetic. Kant accepted these two statements although believed there to be a third: a priori synthetic statements. These are statements that are known independent of experience, that may or my not be true. ...read more.

Conclusion

What Kant means by this is that we should only perform a moral action if we are willing for that action to become a universal law for everybody to follow. Kant then introduces the practical imperative, which in summary runs as follows: " Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end". Kant believed that a person with a good will is someone who acts wholly rationally, someone who disregards their selfish inclinations and acts out of a sense of duty in accordance with the categorical imperative. He believed that any fully rational moral agent would follow this theory. To sum up Kant's approach to ethics, the following quote is useful: "So act as if you were through your maxims a law-making member of a kingdom of ends". ...read more.

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