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What does being good mean for Kant.

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Introduction

(a) What does being good mean for Kant. The principles of Immanuel Kant are based on the belief that ethics stem from rules and reason much like the law of gravity, they are always universal and practical regardless of circumstances. He believed that the ability to reason was unique to man and when exercised this was what it meant to be a moral human being. His deontological method rejects Utilitarianism due to its consequentialist nature not being universal and not based on reason. Kant presents a stricter way of making moral judgements. Kant believed that an action has moral worth if it can be universalised. He proposed the test of universalisability which would show by the use of reason whether an act was right. This is his Categorical Imperative, that "I should never act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim should become a universal law". ...read more.

Middle

A good will is when a person does his duty for the sake of duty alone, he does his duty because it's right, and for no other reason. At the time Kant's approach was a highly original and contemporary way of thinking. He laid out the first principles of morality which were independent of self interest and showed his belief that a good man was one that followed duty and ignored personal feelings. There were many positive aspects that appealed to people when making moral choices. (b) "Kant's theory is cold and unattractive" discuss For example you are a soldier in your war torn homeland. In battle it is your duty to kill the opponent however you knew this particular soldier before the outbreak of fighting and realise that he has a wife and children to support. The consequences of pulling the trigger are at least worth considering. The method above is called the universalisability principle and it was this that allowed Kant to differentiate between moral actions and immoral actions, it ...read more.

Conclusion

Inclination being a shallow personal action and obligation is more of an action of deep duty. For example I have promised my parents that I will baby-sit for them but I get invited to a party that takes place on the same evening where I would much rather spend my Saturday night. Acting as a moral person I would stay in and look after my baby brother doing my duty. I am ignoring my practical will and instead I choose my logical (commonsense) will. Kant argued that a person is only acting morally when they hold back their feelings and stick to their duty. This then raises the question why on some occasions have I gone to the party and arranged another baby sitter, does this make me completely immoral and therefore an irrational person? Utilitarian ethics would allow me to go providing I found another babysitter as then everyone would be happy. It has been suggested that Kent's approach is perhaps too demanding and insensitive to the needs of others. ...read more.

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