Kant Deontological Theory

Emmanuel Kant was an influential German Philosopher. He was born in Konigsberg in Prussia to Protestant parents he lived from 1724 to 1804. Kant observed the world around him and observed that that every culture religion and society has moral law whether they are obeyed or not. The Formula of Universal Law- Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.

The Formula of Humanity- Act so that you use humanity, whether in your own person or that of another, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means. The Formula of the Kingdom of Ends- Act in accordance with the maxims of a member giving universal laws for a merely possible kingdom of ends. The moral duty is what we should be doing. Good is defined as doing what is right and avoiding doing wrong. We have a duty to act in such a way that our actions are moral even if it produces unfavourable results. What is good, according to Kant “Nothing is good but a good will”. (Good intentions).

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It is good to be creative or to have good fortune with good outcomes the world becomes a better place. Goodwill is having the good intention to perform one’s duty. The consequences of our actions do not make an action good but rather the goodwill. What is having a good will? Kant proposes that when someone acts out of goodwill that is when someone is acting out of duty. According to Kant “Duty should be done for the sake and duty alone”. How do we know our duty in a certain situation? Duty has nothing to do with a certain situation or what happens all that matters is the decision is good and the outcome is good.

Kant suggests act as if our decision applies to all people at all times. It is always in order to tell lies if the outcome is favourable? Kant would disagree with this. When we act purely out of duty we act reasonably in a manner that we fulfil our duties. Having goodwill is to perform one’s duty It is our duty to do our duty even though we might not be rewarded in this life but we will be rewarded in the next life. Deontological Ethics. Kant Deontological theory of ethics it is linked to moral law of ethics, especially that branch dealing with duty, moral obligation, and right action.

Origin: 1820–30; Greek deont- that which is binding (stem of deo) (Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913), edited by Noah Porter. ) The word deontology comes from the Greek word meaning duty (deon) and science (or study) of (logos). In moral philosophy, deontological ethics Ethical are theories that maintain that the moral rightness or wrongness of an action depends on its intrinsic qualities. (Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913), edited by Noah Porter). A Quote from Kant “Awe and wonder fills the mind”. Starry heavens a metaphor (scientific absolutism) above and the moral law within”. Like gravity and science these are laws which are absolute as well as moral laws. We have a choice we can all still identify the moral law: e. g. do not steal. Kantian deontological theory of ethics is an absolutes theory something which is considered wrong i. e. suicide will always be wrong. Kant argues that morality is rooted in reason; he states that the demands of morality are unconditional or categorical and it presupposes freedom, we have a choice and can identify and rationally identify morality.

Kant states that morality must be unconditional it has to be categorical. Kant distinguishes between categorical imperatives from hypothetical ones. The categorical imperative is not about desires or goals but rather about personal well-being. Categorical imperatives are absolute and universal. Categorical imperative is necessary truth and cannot be without self-contradiction or irrationality. The Universal Law Act only in accordance with that maxim through that at the same time, will that it become a universal law. One’s actions must be universal.

The Universal law is that one should act on the maxim a law which can become a universal law in nature when acceptable and sustainable. We know that lying and stealing is wrong. If everyone did this society would fail. Perfect duties are without exceptions, but we understand that torture and suicide is always wrong. Suicide is always wrong if this was universalized society would fail. We know that making False Promises that cannot be fulfilled, is always wrong if we cannot regard this as a universal law society would fail.

Breaking promises when it in my interest he states that this inconsistent and therefore cannot be a moral imperative. Imperfect duties is seeking the perfection of our duties are contradictions to our will. We ought to be seeking to promote the happiness of others. We understand that this is not always possible. He does not exclude pleasure in doing duty, but that pleasure should not be the guide to what one’s duty is. What is duty? Kant says “Duty is the necessity of acting from respect for the Law”: Kant believes that duty should be crowned in the end with happiness.

Obedience he says is a maxim that is universally binding as a law to all rational beings. Treat humans as ends to themselves and should respect and never to treat others as a means to an end but only as an end. This means that we should respect others, because every human possesses an intrinsic value. We are to consider whether our actions are moral and acceptable. Kant argues that morals are about following the rules. Kant moral theory can be summarised in two ways Kant argues that we all have a choice that we can all identify the moral law. The Categorical Imperative

Kant designed the Categorical imperative as a framework used to make moral law, which states that one must do what one expects other to do in a similar situation. The Categorical Imperative is the central concept in Kant’s ethics and the groundwork to Metaphysics of Morals. It is based to the “supreme principle of morality” (4:392), from which all our moral duties come from. He believed that moral requirements were based on a standard of rationality and he named this the Categorical Imperative. By using the Universal Imperatives we use our reason (as long as it is not corrupted) to guide us in a path which is morally virtuous.

He states that we should act according to the maxim by which you can at the same time will that it becomes a universal law. Kant uses the example of a person who lends money and is unable to repay the loan. He states that this cannot be a universal law people will no longer believe each other and no person will lend money to another. This can be explained in three ways The Universal Law means that one should act on an action which can be sustained. It is important that we should consider if an action is right or wrong.

This action will eliminate selfish action towards other human beings. Imperfect Duties Imperfect duties to seek the happiness of other people this cannot completed always. The moral law will most certainly collapse if everyone told lies and were to steal. It is expected of one to perform ones duty in every way. The Kingdom of Ends is in accordance with the maxims of a member giving universal laws for a merely possible kingdom of ends is an ideal society every person must act in such a way that it benefits the greater number of people for the greater good.

Every person should act in such a way as if the person through their maxim were universal lawmakers as members in the universal kingdom of ends. One cannot say I will kill myself out of love; this is acceptable and cannot be regarded as a universal law. He argues that humans have an intrinsic worth, and occupy a special place in creation, therefore people are to be treated with respect and dignity because we should understand that we are all rational agents. We possess the freedom to make our own decisions set targets and guide our conduct by reason.

He believes that God is the Supreme Being speaking through our conscious. Therefore Gods existence although it remains unproven it is necessary in order for Kant’s ethical theory to be sound. He states that is freedom and immortality. “God is the law giver to be obeyed” Kant argues that there must be a God and an after-life since it would be intolerable if there were no reward. Kant states that if humans were to disappear from the planet the moral dimension would disappear too. Critique on Kant’s theories: Humans are motivated by pleasure and not only by reason.

The question is it possible to act unselfishly, it is necessary to take consequences into consideration. Kant ethics places great emphasises on lying as a form of wrong. He fails to offer an understanding of conflict between different duties, Kant theories does not take into consideration social conditioning and free will. I disagree with Kant that feelings are subjective and selfish and find that he focuses too much on pure practical moral reason he excludes feeling and desires.

Kant tries to combine ethics with reason but this seems unrealistic as the concept of reason does not exist in isolation from human beings and their feelings and actions. Ref: Jorge J. Gracia E, Gregory M, Reichberg and Bernard, Schumacher N. The Classics of Western Philosophy, (Blackwell Publishing Ltd). 2004. Ref: Mc Coy A. An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Christian Ethics, Continuum. London , New York Ref: http://www. slideshare. net/t0nywilliams/kant-9170093