Why should I be Moral?

HideShow resource information

Categorical Imperative -Moral demands (you must do it if it is your duty)

Honest shopkeeper charges fair prices for his goods. There are 3 reasons why he does not overcharge...

1 - It is sensible for a successful business not to cheat customers

2 - Out of love and care

3 - He recognises the principle of fair dealing

Points 1 is rejected by Kant as unsatisfactory, because if he stopped gaining pleasure or benefit from fair dealing he would no longer be honest. Point 2 is rejected because if he stopped gaining from them he would no longer do them.

The only moral act is point 3 as it is the intention to do the right thing.

Motive is essential when considering duty. The real test is to perform your duty, even if you do not want to do it.

If it is your duty you must do it.

These laws are universal (applies to everyone) and absolute (unchanging) - They are deontological (focussed on the act)

How do we work out what these laws are? We use our uniquely human and universal power of reason.

1. I should universalise my motives and only act in a way that I would want a law for all people to follow.

2. I should treat people as ends rather than means - I should treat people as valuable with respect and dignity, counting each one equally and never exploiting or using people.

The importance of reason

If something is right for me then everyone should act in the same way. It is intrinsic to us that when something is right, everyone ought to do it. 

Moral laws show unconditional commands applicable to all, this is the categorical imperative. Fairness and equality and respect for all human life is our intrinsic moral behavior.

Psychological egoism 

Human nature is such that we can't help but persue our own interests.

Nietzche "Life itself is the will to power"

Part of being alive is the will to demonstrate your power. We would do whatever we can to persue our own interests. 

Lincoln - all life is motivated from selfishness, but he jumped from a coach and went to considerable lengths to rescue pigs from a swamp, why? Because he didn't want to loose piece of mind.


Is this factually correct about humans? How has it been verified?

In this description of how we should behave, there is no indication of what we ought to do. If every act is done to gain piece of mind, moral behavior may not necessarily be the best way to achieve this.

Would egoism justify self sacrifice? 

It depends on your own attitude. If you are braver then the egoism is stronger.

Social contract theory

Contract - A formal agreement

Impartial - doesn't take sides, not being involved

Contractarianism - Morality is a convention. It is a set of rules to our mutual advantage.

We accept moral conventions because they maximise our satisfaction. This means we can change these conventions if others…


No comments have yet been made

Similar Philosophy resources:

See all Philosophy resources »See all Morality resources »