HideShow resource information
  • Created by: melisa
  • Created on: 16-11-14 16:30

Intro to Kant

  • Kant theory is ABSOLUTE
  • We should do our duty because it is our duty (no emotion)
  • Kant is massively flawed
  • for society to flourish everyone has to have motives- kant is critised!!
  • you should have no other intentions. has to be selfless- good will
  • the only motive you should have is kindness
  • kindness= duty 
  • duty- right thing to do/ moral action
1 of 7


Categorical Imperative- involves making a moral decision from a sense of duty without any consideration of the outcome. 

  • no uncertainty or dependence on anything else
  • You should do this
  • a universal absolute principle that can be used at all times e.g do not murder/lie (10 commandments)
  • connected to moral situations (all about morality)
  • no concern with the outcome at all

Hypothetical Imperative- an action which achieves a goal or result.

  • they are telelogical
  • not concerned with moral actions
  • concerned with actions that have an outcome e.g if you do something then this will happen
  • no obligation to obey unless you want to achieve an outcome
  • Kant thought this imperative were no use as he wanted a absolute moral rule.
2 of 7

Moral law and Good will

Moral law

Absolute moral law- a fixed rule to apply to everyone and anytime (universal)

No emotion- based on the power of reason

People are free to act according to this moral law

Good action follows the moral law

But.. a good deed can become tangled with a dubious intention/ bad outcome

Good Will

Kant's absolute rule is an action is only good, if you only act from a sense of good will. Good will is the only pure action. no place for emotion, the only reason should be duty.

However this could be misused, for example helping others to make yourself feel better is wrong. Your only motive  should be duty.

3 of 7

Duty for duty's sake


Reasons for any action must be coldly rational and free from emotion.

But acting from a sense of duty is not being forced. The only answer is 'because it's their duty to' or it would introduce a motive.


4 of 7

Kant's moral agrument

univeral agreement that some actions are right and wrong- existence of an objective moral law that everyone is aware of

we feel obligated to follow this law because it is the rational thing to do

right action- apply moral reason, reveal moral law and give us the categorical imperative- obey

virtue can only be duty for duty's sake. e.g do it out of love- virtious action

Why are we moral?

experience- not always happiness when you carry out a virtue action- happiness will be rewarded eventually

virtue + happiness come together= summum bonum

summum bonum is rarely achieved- only achieve it in the afterlife

5 of 7


Maxims are rules that you life your life by, from the categorical imperative

Kant is seen as cold and inhumane because you cannot apply it in all situations and are unrealistic.

Kant's 3 Maxims-

Formulation 1- universaliation- is something that can be applied everywhere in all times and circumstances, without exception. we must universalise an act, can it apply to everyone?

Formulation 2- Humans as ends- moral code, do not use people, using them as ends. People are worthy of respect and should not be used as a means to get something else. this promotes equality and human rights.

Formulation 3- The kingdom of ends- perfection in this world e.g reach heaven. Act as everyone has the same human rights. if we can do the two formulations and apply it to the whole society, we have reached the kingdom of ends. once we have reached the kingdom of ends we can achieve the summon bonum (the ultimate happiness)


6 of 7

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • There is one rule for everyone which applies to all cultures and throughout time (universal code, flexible)
  • It shows respect for human life and treats everyone, even minorities, fairly (agrees with formulation 2 and 3, universal, human rights)
  • It is based on reason and there are clear criteria for what is moral (innate reasoning)


  • Putting duty above everything else seems cold and inhumane. there is no place for actions undertaken as a result of love/ compassion
  • the outcome may be more important then the decision making
  • It's human nature to consider the consequences before acting
  • conflicting duties
  • not everyone is capable of rational moral decision making
  • the abstract principle is not easy to apply in real life situations

Perhaps by using an alternative ethical theory such as natural law- aquinas law has room for emotion, do good and avoid evil.

7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Ethics resources:

See all Ethics resources »See all Kant revision resources »