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Bad consequences from a good will?

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Bad consequences from a good will? The innermost theory of Kant's morality, is not the consequences but the motive behind the action, which determines if the action itself is one of moral worth. According to Kant, the only will that is good without qualification is a good will. Kant uses the term "good will"i throughout his explanation of moral motive and to indicate that a will possesses a motive of righteous content, and does a dutiful act, because it is dutiful. To act out of a good will is to perform an action because it is right to do the action, and for no other reason. Kant identifies "good will" with practical reason in which all moral laws apply, at their most fundamental level, to all rational agents. Kant notes that many of the things we normally think of as good, such as happiness, courage, and intelligence, are all qualified goods, because their goodness depends upon their being possessed by someone with a good will. ...read more.


When one understands the distinction between a moral act and the consequences of an action, then it becomes clear what Kant was attempting to communicate. When one's motivations within an action are examined and they encompass a "good will", then the action would have performed an action with the right intention simply because it was their duty, and they did not expect a reward upon completing the duty. The value of the "good will" is not qualified by its relation to anything outside of it, but its value is independent of context and entirely unconditional. Kant does not say that a good will always gives satisfactory results, or even the results that one may have anticipated. Nor does Kant say, that an act is a something that one should do, and would be wrong not to do, but one can do the right thing for the wrong reasons. ...read more.


When a favorable consequence results, the action may or may not be witnessed by others and the motive behind it may only be know by the one who completed the action. In short, you are not being rational if you treat yourself as a special case, and apply to yourself rules or principles of action that you could not endorse for the whole world. The only certainty of a pure motive is when right is done even if ones best interests is the cost, and we don't want to do the morally correct action. The only true way to know that the absolute purest action is being done, is when you do the right thing at all times. Kant would say, when you see someone in need, it is your duty to stop and help, even if you are put out in doing so. In being put out by helping others you are actually helping yourself become a morally stronger person. i Barbara MacKinnon, Ethics Theory and Contemporary Issues (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2001) pg 68. ...read more.

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