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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. "There is no possibility of thinking of anything at all in the world, or even out of it, which can be regarded as good without qualification, except a good will". Immanuel Kant explains how important "good will" is. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was a German born philosopher who lived in the Prussian city of Kļæ½nigsberg. His philosophy was influenced by German Pietism, which is a religion based on personal experience rather than proof- which is crucial in his ethical theory. Different people would interpret the word "duty" in different ways. The Concise Oxford Dictionary alone lists 6 different definitions of the word and this could affect how people interpret how Kant thinks. The most common meaning is "a moral or legal obligation; a responsibility". Already, this could cause some controversy. If we take "duty" to mean "a moral" "obligation", then this follows with Kantian Ethics. This assumes that we can make our own decisions freely (one of Kant's postulates for the Categorical Imperative). However, if "duty" means a "legal obligation", then they are not free choices as we are making our decisions without free will and absolute choice. ...read more.

Middle

This is summed up in a statement from Kant: "a good will is not good because of what it affects or accomplishes. It is good in itself". The Categorical Imperative is another key part to Kantian ethics. It helps us to understand which actions we ought to do, and which action we ought not to do. "All imperatives command either hypothetically or categorically...If the action would be good simply as a means to something else, then the imperative is hypothetical; but if the action is represented as good in itself...then the imperative is good." From this we could say that Kant believed moral statements could be prescriptive. The actions that he is prescribing do not take into account the final result of an action; it is our duty to follow these laws that are set out as morally good. The laws and rules should be universal and be applicable to everyone, everywhere. However, it is very difficult to come up with any moral rules that would always be correct. Would the rule: "it is wrong to kill" always be applicable in every situation? Of course not! Even though we recognise that "thou shall not kill" is a law we should all live by, there are situations when it would acceptable, such as self defence. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Categorical Imperative should not be confused with the Hypothetical Imperative. Although both were developed by Immanuel Kant, they are very different. The hypothetical imperative says that if we want "" to happen, then we should do "". This gives you a choice whether or not you want to do something or not, and therefore this is not related to duty. Whereas, the categorical Imperative, tells you that you simply have to do "" and is telling you that you ought to do it- and so is related to duty. Furthermore, the Hypothetical Imperative is not related to moral issues- it could be "If you want to eat something, you should walk to the shop". The Categorical Imperative is to do with ethical issues, so could be "you should always strive to protect human life". Kant also teaches about a-priori synthetic. This is statements of knowledge that we know without prior existence (opposite to a-posteriori). He tells us that through moral reasoning there are objective moral laws. We use our reasoning to predict what things may be like (a-priori synthetic). Therefore, I conclude, that Immanuel Kant thinks that it is intrinsic to do one's duty and that everyone should do their duty with good will and with inner good. Everyone should aim to achieve the Summum Bonum, which is do achieve their duty and bring happiness. ...read more.

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