Moral Theory of Immanuel Kant

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Immanuel Kant’s philosophical approach is typically a moralistic theory seeking to establish the systematic way in which human morality is formed while explaining how various human actions can be judged according to their moral legitimacy. Among all the theories that most of us have come across, Kantian Ethics, which is a deontological moralistic theory, stands large as an informant of how human beings behave. Kantianism argues that only those activities that are intrinsically driven qualify for goodwill. Moreover, this theory uses rational thinking in delivering individual mandate to humanity. Kant argues that for an action to be considered ethical, the doer has to be perfectly legitimate through rationality. This leads to the philosopher's perception that an individual's most rational behaviour ought to be the most ethical one. This theory posits that there is no obligation for moral behaviour. To this end, every human action and thought ought to be ethical, and therefore, moral.

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Reading through Kant's theory, one cannot help but notice that the theorist focuses so much on the decision a person makes as compared to the consequences of that decision. He argues that while the implications of a human action may be harmful, one should strive to do the right thing regardless of what the anticipated or the actual result will be. While Kant argues that human actions should be evaluated based on the principles they choose to follow, other schools of thought posit that people's actions should be judged based on their consequences because while consequences retain their worth, the inspiration may result in nothing much. 

Kant's Universal Law Formula has shown that a person's goodwill is directed by logical reasoning/rationality. While other theorists would instead consider the consequences of an action and evaluate the motive from it, Bojanowski (2017) argues that Kant's approach calls humanity to be motivated by their duty to one another, as opposed to the consequences they want to see. According to this formula, goodwill is the only good thing in a human action. Kantian ethics hold that people must submit to moralism, what he chooses to call the Moral Law, and that duty to humanity should come without qualification; it is not a question of making choices but abiding with what is right. This implies that one has only the option of doing that which is right and acceptable and ignoring anything that is likely not to agree with the moral laws of a society. Kantian Ethics is informed by several principles, such as the Principle of Universality. Immanuel Kant postulates that human beings should always behave in a way that they would desire other people around them to behave. This is basically the Principle of Universality, which states that unless one wants others to be bad to them, they should not act in a bad way. This is complemented by the Law of Nature, another Kantian Ethic that requires people not to act towards others as objects they can use for their pleasure and convenience (Forschler, 2013)). While it may be difficult to live without using other people to obtain set goals, Kant reiterates, in this law, that one should treat others as human beings and not as objects that they can use and discard. Could Kant have been pointing at Slavery, a phenomenon that was so prevalent during his times? Probably, he was led by the happenings of his time. This holds true in situations that seem convenient for people to gain fame and wealth using other people that seem to have no options but to work for them.

Kantian ethics, in justifying the principle behind an action as opposed to its consequences, argues that all people are due dignity and should be respected as autonomous individuals worth respect. Well, this may be contested by some people who argue that some people are more respectable than others. For instance, some employers only use their employees as a means to an end rather than an end in themselves. Kantian Ethics have a response for this, postulating that whenever human beings act, whether or not they achieve the goals of their actions is often beyond their control. However, the ability to treat other people right is often a choice that people need to make. The morality of people's actions should not be judged by the outcomes of such actions, whatsoever. Soloview (2018), opines that we can always control the will behind our actions. All people should be willing to help others and always speak the truth regardless of whether it favors all people or not. What a motivation to remain both rational and a person of goodwill! Kant has led most people to believe that all other things are not viable without reason, but goodwill is always perfect, whether with reason or not. A goodwill to help humanity, or to do good just because it is good to do so, is perfect in itself, whether it produces good results or not (Soloview, 2018). This means that a person would be considered moral and abiding with the Kantian Ethics if they donated blood, and the patient they were helping ended up dying. Evaluation of Kant's Ethics reveals that even the most valuable of things can be used for the wrong purposes

 Everything is driven by the will to do it, and a person should be considered either amoral, moral, or immoral according to the will they possess to do some things. Health, courage, and wealth may be good, but they can all serve the wrong purpose. One has to possess goodwill for an action to be called intrinsically good, which is the essence of Kantian Ethics. Human beings have a perfect duty, to tell the truth because it is the right thing to do. Immanuel Kant believes that no one should engage in activities that are degrading to others. In this regard, Kant views sexual activities as immoral and argues that no human being should be forced to participate in activities such as pornography and prostitution because there is no goodwill attached to it. Such activities objectify human beings and use them as a means to an end, meaning that the owner of a brothel has bad intentions to gain wealth through using the bodies of other people (Forschler, 2013).

Goodness and goodwill, in this case, is the unconditional good. We may be tempted to think that Kantian Ethics try to discredit and dissuade people from doing some things with the consequences in mind. However, these fundamental principles have established boundaries between what a person should do aiming at helping the society, and those boundaries they should not cross. For instance, a person may choose to steal so that they can meet the needs of their family members. While the consequence is good in that it saves lives, the motivation was wrongly founded, and so goes against Kantian Ethics. Immanuel Kant's ethics, such as Categorical Imperative, are a good way of encouraging people to remain committed to the paths that lead to perfection, I should think.

While loyalty is a good virtue, Kantian Ethics show that showing loyalty to an evil person leads to immorality, rather than promoting morality. The fundamental worth of human beings emphasizes that people practice moral living and honesty, as opposed to subscribing to doctrinal beliefs (Lechner, 2011). I am for the idea that Kant was right in proposing that people should not be elated by the good that is done to them but by the intentions of those people that do it. Well, while this may be contradictory, the consequences of an action may be mistakes from the execution of the will. To this end, I propose that judgment for morality should be based on the intrinsic drive towards creating a perfect community. Wealth and its relationship to duty should not be used as motivating factors for doing something. We have already established that wealth and courage may be used to entice people and use them for the convenience of the wealthy or courageous person. Although Kantian Ethics using the various theories and principles provides compelling convictions on whether human behavior is ethical or not, it still has some flaws. The ethics fail to provide room for emotions such as sympathy. Emotional attributes such as compassion can be driving forces may be motives for ethical behavior.

A person may also be acting from religious convictions, such as the requirement that people share with one another what they have. Kant fails to show us how to approach conflicts of duty, such as deciding whether to tell the truth and betraying a friend, or telling a lie and saving that friend. These fundamental flaws may reduce the persuasion power of Kantian Ethics. However, such flaws may not warrant that we disagree with Kantian Ethics because unless an action is intrinsically driven, the outcome may not mean much. Outcomes such as the success of an individual may result from the intention of another to see them in debt. Therefore, Kantian ethics still hold a lot of water today as they did when they were first formulated. While Kant argues that human actions should be evaluated based on the principles they choose to follow, other schools of thought posit that people's actions should be judged based on their consequences because while consequences retain their worth, the inspiration may result in nothing much. Kantian ethics plays a significant role in determining what is moral and immoral in society. The motivation of an action should count as the determinant of the moral authority of the person doing it, as opposed to the consequences. Kant has proven that some positive consequences may result from the poor implementation of a motive, and therefore may not count towards the determination of moralism.

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