account of kant's ethical theory

essay about kant and his ethical theory!

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  • Created on: 06-04-12 13:07
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Sara-Beth Cartwright Ethics
Give an account of Kant's theory of ethics:
Immanuel Kant was a deontologist born in the 1700's, and developed an absolute
and objective theory of ethics which is focused on the thought of moral law. His
theory uses practical reason, and looks at the argument, before deciding what to do
about the situation. Kant's theory is illustrated to be a priori and synthetic, meaning
that it is foreseeable without knowledge and can be proven to me true or false
without using knowledge and the theory fundamentally explained that humans must
do their duty, without having to reference it to experience. Kant believed in right and
wrong based on reason, and he relies on intuitions or evidence. For Kant, practical
reason looks at the evidence and the argument, and he says that it cannot depend
on the external facts.
In the subject of freedom, Kant says one must be capable of exercising freedom, or
free will. In the Kantian ethical theory, only good will counts, and he believed that it is
a starting point for all ethical theories. No more than good will can be agape, so for
his theory, we humans must do our duty, which makes the will good. He says that
duty is done for its own sake and not for any kind of advantage to our self. He says
we know what is right and good by using reason, and uses the categorical imperative
to show this obligation that humanity has.
Kantian ethics has two main categories, and they are known as the hypothetical and
categorical imperatives. Firstly, the hypothetical imperatives are fixed on achieving
definite targets and goals. You have an option to choose one thing or another, and it
doesn't necessarily have to be followed. Kant says one cannot link morality to
hypothetical imperatives, but you can alternatively link then to the categorical
imperatives. Categorical imperatives are action based orders, and they only give one
option in which to follow.
Kant gives three formulations of the basic moral principle. The first is acting as if one
were legislating for everyone. This means that one should consider the thing they
want to do, and could be made a universal principle appropriate to all individuals at all
times. The second is acting as if one is treating people as a means to an end, never
only as means. One must have respect for humankind and never use people in a way
that you regard for their well being and decorum. An example of this would be
slavery. Finally, the third is to act if one were a member of a kingdom of ends, a
world where everyone is treated fairly. Humanity should not cheat other, and they
should treat them as they would expect themselves to be treated. So every human
should treat one another as a moral being and pay regard to their choices and
To conclude, it is evident that Kant's theory is clear and well thought out. Despite
the flaws, it is one of the easiest ethical theories for one to follow. Nobody can be
an exception, and if everybody followed the theory, the world would be a
harmonious place, full of equality and freedom.


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