Morality is rational and objective - discuss

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     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? If not, then it is wrong to use such a maxim as the basis for an action. This essay seeks to address the issue of what is morality and whether it is determined by duty or inclination.

     Morality is defined by the Wikipedia encyclopedia as a “complex of principles based on cultural, religious and philosophical concepts and beliefs, by which an individual determines whether his or her actions are right or wrong”. For most people morality is influenced by their religion or theology. Religion most often holds that morality is not the work of man but of God. What is called the conscience (the naturally infused mechanism that gives us our sense of morality) is put into mankind by God. Others may define what is morally acceptable based on their experiences. Hence what they call morals may be principles they have imposed on themselves to live by as a result of previous experiences so as to guide them for what lies ahead.

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     Morality can therefore be said to be relative. What may be accepted by one individual as moral may not be accepted by the other. Similarly what may be accepted as moral in one society may not be accepted by the other. For Kant, what is moral is only justified when it is acted out of duty. To act out of duty means to have given thought to an action before carrying it out and to have considered its consequences. Acting out of inclination for Kant requires no thought. This is because almost any man is bound to do ...

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