Immanuel Kant created a new perspective in philosophy which had widespread influences on contemporary philosophy work. Through all his achievements in philology, his moral Philosophy will be discussed in this paper. According to Kant’s theory, moral laws relate to fairness and consistency. Both of these concepts lead to the principle of universalizability. He stated that, “An act is morally acceptable if and only if its maxim is universalizable. ”
To prove his statement he used two imperatives which are hypothetical imperatives and Categorical Imperatives. Categorical Imperatives” is a single moral obligation that relates to the concept of duty which Kant defines as a major content in this obligation. Kant assessed the principle of universalizability by denying benevolence which he also used in his other theory “the principle of humanity. ” Both of his principles proved the relationship between morality and rationality. Kant did show his opposition to utilitarianism and handled the shortcomings of consequentialism. On the other hand, the Kantian perspective has its own problems that are neatly addressed by consequentialism.
The Kantian perspective did draw strong claims compared to utilitarianism in some concepts; however, Kant’s theory did have its problems generally. Consistency and Fairness are considered to be basic concepts to define Kantian perspective. However, both tests in these concepts have shortcomings to prove the relationship between consistency and moral standards. Then he found the principle of universalizability: “An act is morally acceptable if and only if its maxim is universalizable. ” A maxim has two parts and states what you are about to do, and why you are about to do it.
According to Kant, every action has a maxim, and we cite the maxim when we try to explain to others why we act as we do. In this case, that means if we lack a maxim, then we aren’t really acting at all. Therefore Kant values an action’s rightness depending on its maxim. His theory indicates morality has everything to do with our intentions; this contradicts the theory that says results that reverse the contents of consequentialism. To contrast consequentialism, for example I want to keep a promise to people, for different reasons, than I admit.
From a utilitarian perspective, as long as I keep my promise my action is moral no matter what intention I have. The Kantian perspective shows a completely different way, where behavior is valued by maxims. That means moral behavior should have a correct maxim, otherwise this would not be consistent with the moral results. Compared to consequentialism, Kantian theory indicates a better perspective to define morality. Kantian theory supports our thought that those who set out to do evil are acting immorally, even if, through sheer chance, they manage to do good.
It also justifies the claim that people who live by noble principles are acting morally, even when some unforeseeable accident intervenes, and their action brings only bad results. In Kantian perspective, Kant had a strong reason to show that the morality of an action depends on its maxim, rather than the results. However, Kant did not have a strong statement to prove all maxims are universal in the moral world. There is a three-part test to prove the universal nature of a maxim:
1. Formulate your maxim clearly- state what you intend to do, and why you intend to do it. 2. Imagine a world in which everyone supports and acts on your maxim. 3. Then ask: Can the goal of my action be achieved in such a world? The reason to do this three-part test is to prove that we are pursuing actions for reasons that everyone could stand behind. However, doing test did not result in motives and action that everyone could support. For example, a homeowner wants to keep a perfect lawn so he killed the mailman to prevent the mailman trampling his lawn. The maxim of keeping a perfect lawn could apply to everyone.
That means when this maxim is universal, it could explain this homeowner murder as a justifiable killing. If murder is wrong for sure, then this repeals the principle of universalizability due to this example casting serious doubt on the principle. All these general topics refer to the “what if everyone did that? ” test would prove morality, consistency, and fairness. Although, if everyone did one action, that still not prove their action would lead to a moral behavior. Overall, the principle of universalizability does not have a strong support to prove moral action.
We can act on universalizable maxims and still do wrong. Kant also demonstrated the idea of the principle of Humanity. This principle is “Always treat a human being as an end and never as a mere means. ” The humanity in the principle refers to all rational and autonomous beings. Treating someone as an end means to treat them with the respect they deserve. The other part of “as a means” refers to dealing with someone so that they help us achieve one of our goals. The plumber example in the chapter proves that we should treat a plumber the way he deserves rather than using him as tool to avoid fees.
The major concept of this principle is to prove humans are worth treating with respect since they are rational and autonomous beings, a point which proposed by Kant. Rationality and autonomy explain the immorality of a fanatic’s action in the first place. Second, autonomy explains why slavery and rape are always immoral. Also the principle of humanity easily explains our outrage at paternalism. Autonomy is what justifies the attitude of never abandoning hope in people and explains our practices of holding one another accountable for our deeds and misdeeds.
In addition, human rights protect basic powers at a very fundamental level. Lastly most people believe that punishment rather than conditioning is the appropriate response to serious wrongdoers. Rationality and autonomy are important because they explain most fundamental morality action and justify those basic concepts of humanity. The principle of humanity and the emphasis on rationality and autonomy that underlies moral action still leave doubts about the principle. The notion of treating someone as an end is vague.
Because of this vagueness, the notion of treating someone as an end often makes it difficult to prove whether this action is morally acceptable. Second, it fails to give us good advice about how to determine what people deserve. As the example explains an employee ought to get paid for her work, even if her employer could do more good by giving her salary to charity. What these wrongdoers deserve is hard to measure. Should we be more considerate and give a lesser punishment to criminals and save money that could meet other social needs? Third, people doubt the statement of autonomy.
They refute this theory by asking whether our choices are necessary. The conclusion would be, we lack autonomy due to our choices being influenced by other objective reasons in some ways. These arguments prove that we may lack autonomy on occasion. Fourth, according to Kant the principle of humanity is only based on autonomy control. However, moral luck calls this into question because if Kant is right, that means moral luck could not exist. The examples are contrary to Kant’s theory. The last one raises doubt about rationality and autonomy.
Since animals lack both of these capacities, does that mean animals do not deserve respect and we could torture them? The answer is “no” because that reverses the principle of humanity again. Therefore, all these concerns about the principle of humanity still leave reasonable doubts. Kant demonstrated the existence of the relationship between rationality and morality earlier; and he concluded that the motivation of moral worth is good will. The structure of consequentialism is worth pursuing for its own sake; your moral duty is to maximize this value.
But Kant rejected this theory by applying morality is due to good will. The good will has two parts: it is the ability to reliably know what your duty is; and a steady commitment to doing your duty for its own sake. That means an individual must do the right thing for the right reason. In order to determine this concept, Kant provided us with the categorical imperative which was mentioned earlier. He expands upon this idea stating that acting from the good will is the only way that actions can be truly praiseworthy. This could be explained by using the same example of a good maxim leads to moral action.
That means this action could be priceless and morally worthy. On the other hand, Kant also thought that acting from such a motive is entirely an exercise of reason. As he believed, we are acting solely from an understanding of what is morally required of us, not from any desire or emotion. The first one explains that good will leads to a moral worthy action; in other words, we are motivated by what is morally worthy. Both concepts strongly support each other by applying this consistent relationship between moral worth and good will.
Furthermore, good will leads to the idea that an individual must do the right thing for the right reason. In order to determine what our duty is on any given occasion. Kant provided that categorical imperative to prove his theory. The basic procedure of the categorical imperative contains two tests which are universality and respect for others as ends in themselves. As discussed earlier, universality could not apply to all the situations although the maxim theory did explain the aim of moral action. The respect for others as ends in themselves justifies hat we should treat others the way they deserve, though the principle of humanity still leave doubts about its applicability this to all situations. These concepts are raised a higher level like the major conflict in the Kantian perspective. When a moral rule can meet both principles, then we are obligated to perform it. This shows that the Kantian perspective has a strong support to demonstrate that good will has a deep relationship with moral actions. However, this theory still does not have sustainable reasons to prove what would be moral actions when the principle of universalizability and the principle of humanity meet consistent.