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  • Created on: 20-05-11 16:20

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Immanuel Kant lived been between 1724 and 1804 he was a very influential thinker of his time
however he had limited experience as he stuck to a daily routine. His theory which is written in
"The ground work of mephysion of morals" is deontological, as it's not concerned with
consequences but the motives of the actions. He also believed that our ability to reason makes
us different from animals as it enables us to resolve problems. Therefore he believes that all men
will come to the same decision, "what is the right thing for me to do using reason is the right
thing for everyone to do using reason".
Kant's moral law states that for a motive to be good then it must contain something which is
universally and conditionally good. This is the "highest good" or "good without qualifications.
Therefore the categorical imperative can help us decide which actions are obligatory and which
are forbidden, as an action is good if it means something to someone else. Arguably the only
thing good is good will, as it doesn't depend on consequences and it's not concerned with self
motives, this is done by acting for the sake of duty. To perform a moral action out of the desire
for a good consequence is to act in self interest and this isn't a morally good action. As Kant
believes we should act out of duty and not emotion. For example, if a murder asked us whether
our friend, who he is in purse of hiding in our house, we would have to be truthful. As Kant
insists we were honest as he doesn't consider the consequences of actions and lying would be
A human action is good when it's done for the sake of duty however if a duty demands
kindness for an action, then I can be done if we focus on the motive it would be a good act but
the person wouldn't be moral for choosing it. For example if I give money to a beggar out of
kindness, then the action would be good but I'm not virtuous for doing it. However if I help the
beggar because duty demands it, then I'm virtuous. Kant argues that we're not moral for the
sake of love but for the sake of duty. He believes duty and reason can help to guide our
emotions, so we aren't ruled by them, a moral person must be rational. Kant explains that to act
out of duty is to perform actions that are morally obligatory and not to perform that are
So Kant created the categorical imperative to know which actions should be used and which
shouldn't. This fundamental principle of morality acts as standards of judging which actions are
right and which are wrong this is done by universalizing the actions maxim and seeing if it can be
done consistently. The first of the three principles is "I ought never to act expect in such ways
that don't allow my maxim to become a universal law". This means moral laws must be applied
to all situations and all rational beings I an act is right for me then it's right for everyone. For
example we cant maintain the purpose "stealing is wrong for everyone, but because I haven't
got enough money to pay the rent this month I can steal." As for an action to be morally valid,
the person performing the act must not carry out the action unless they believe that, in the same
situation, all people would act in the same way. The moral law permits certain actions and
forbids others. Kant argued that allowing exceptions would harm someone and have an eroding
effect on society, e.g. lying, in some circumstances is ok but it will always harm someone.

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The second categorical imperative says, "Always treats others as ends in themselves and never
means." Therefore we can never use humans for other purposes, such as exploitation or
enslavement, as humans are rational and the highest point of creation so demand unique
treatment. This guarantees that individuals are offered some moral protection as we can't use
individuals for the sake of many like utilitarianism would allow.…read more


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