Essay on Kant's strengths

Hi everyone,

This is an english version to a thorough view on Kant's ethical theory, which asks the quesiton 'explain the strengths of Kant's theory of ethics'.  I hope whomever reads this finds it useful. :)


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Robert Varley. AS Theology
Explain the strengths of Kant's theory of ethics (25 Marks)
Kant is a deontologist, who believed intensely that morality is based on duty. Kant focuses on
motivation and intention, summarising that what matters is that a person does their duty out of a
sense of goodwill. Kant says that we are half animal and half angel because we are influenced by
both reason and instinct but because we have reason, and so are able to choose, we should be
autonomous (self-Governing) in choosing our morality. (However, Kant believed that because reason
is common to us all, we should reach the same conclusions about right and wrong). Kant distinguishes
between hypothetical and categorical imperatives. Any right action must conform to three
formulations of the categorical imperative. Firstly; we must acct in such as way as you would be
willing to make your action into universal law, for example; don't lie because you can't desire that
everyone lies. Furthermore; we must act in a way that treats people always as an end in themselves
and never only as a means to an end, for example; don't torture an innocent person to get the
information you need. Finally; act as if you were a universal law maker in a kingdom of ends. Kant's
useful theory hindered several strengths, but most significantly, there are five main strengths to his
theory of ethics, and throughout this essay, this is what I will explain.
At first glance, a strength of Kant's theory of ethics is that the categorical imperative is useful as it
clearly highlights what we should and should not do. It states that things like murder, rape and theft
are wrong which most people agree with. For example; the use of the categorical imperative can
help us to decide that we should help an old woman across the road because it is our duty to do so as
it involves acting out of goodwill. This is a strength because it gives people autonomy, as they have
the conditions for right/wrong but must work it out. Another strength of Kant's theory of ethics is
that the categorical imperative binds all people to the same set of rules without exception, which
would be good for a harmonious society. This is a strength, because it indicates that the theory
promotes equality, as if we were all to act with duty and reason, we would not make egotistic
decisions to benefit ourselves, but more so, we would make decisions to benefit everyone.
Furthermore; a strength to Kant's theory of ethics is conclusively that it shows the highest respect for
human life. The theory emphasises the value of human life, avoiding the utilitarian problem of
treating people as a means to general happiness. The theory illustrates we act with a duty of
goodwill, and we have a universal law to act good, leading to the point that humans are good
creatures and so we are not described as evil or as a purpose to do evil. Another strength to Kant is
that it mainly distinguishes between duty and things we are inclined to do. This encourages us to act
unselfishly, because we act in accordance with our duty and not just for what want to do, the theory
by Kant therefore is strengthened because it recognises the importance of motivation and not just
consequences. Finally, a positive strength to summarise Kant's theory of ethics is that Kant says we
cannot sacrifice one human life for the sake of others (against utilitarianism), He also said that we
can't create happiness at the cost of someone else's happiness, promoting an unselfish attitude
towards morality. This is a strength because it mean the theory by Kant avoids the problem of
calculating consequences. You can know you're doing a right action before you do it. For example; It
is wrong to murder somebody for your own satisfaction, as it is not giving the person you murder
Conclusively, the theory by Kant has many useful applications to the real life world today. The theory
is mainly strengthened because it; gives people autonomy, promotes equality, and emphasises the
value of human life, it also avoids the problems of humans calculating consequences and recognises
the importance of motivation not just consequences. The theory points to the fact that our morality is

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Robert Varley. AS Theology
based on duty, and we have a sense of goodwill to do our duty, this furthermore illustrates how
Kant's theory is strong because it shows how it is a very well supported theory. Personally, i feel the
theory is good, solely for the reason that upon reflection; it helps us to decide whether an action is
good or bad, and shows the cognitive process we undergo to follow through a right/wrong action.…read more


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