Essay Example on Metaphysics of Morals Immanuel Kant

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Immanuel Kant an 18th century German philosopher believed that in contradiction to our unit one teachings religion and morality made for a defective pair and that the two should be kept separate from one another Alternatively Kant insisted that in order to determine what is right one must use reason along with consideration for others Kant believed that because people came from all different types of religious backgrounds if one only looked to their religious beliefs for their morality humans would ever arise to the exact same conclusions Kant being a moral absolutist thought that morality was almost a type of human constant and believed that no matter your religious affiliation we should all agree on moral conundrums Kant s main contribution to the ethical discussion is the distinction he made between things that we ought to do morally and things we ought to do for other non moral reasons His main idea is that most of the time whether or not we ought to do something is not our choice but instead it is subject to our own desires For a simple example if you want to get married then you ought to start talking to the opposing gender This large overarching idea is what Kant called Hypothetical Imperatives thus being instructions that you should follow if you want something Hypothetical Imperatives are based more so in logical and wisdom rather than morality Rather Kant viewed morality through what he describes as Categorical Imperatives these being decrees that one must follow regardless of your own desires 



They are taken from pure reason and are our moral obligations as humans Kant believed that no matter your opinion of morality the moral law applies to us all and everyone should be able to know the difference between right and wrong using their own intelligence while never relying on religion to guide them Kant was able to elaborate on the idea of categorical imperatives by dividing them up into four main formulas Formulas one and two are commonly the more overlaying formulas so we will only focus on Kant s first two categories Formulation one directly states Act only according to that maxim which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction this is known as the universalizability principle This statement is saying that before one acts they should ask themselves what is the rule of conduct behind my action For example say stealing is the action by stealing you are agreeing that it is universally okay for everyone else to steal because of your actions whether you agree with it or not If you are able to steal then everyone should be able to steal Now no one would actually agree to this and Kant says that moral actions can t bring internal challenge Because of this the action of stealing according to Kant would not be universalizable Kant is explaining that after viewing something beforehand as universalizable you are able to make the clear distinction that you do or do not agree with that action The Formula of Humanity is the second formulation and it states Act so that you treat humanity whether in your own person or in that of another always as an end and never as a mere means


This statement focuses on how you as a person treat those around you For this theory Kant calls us humans ends in ourselves We are rational and autonomous beings and because of that we have to ability to set task for ourselves and complete things to will help us achieve that task Because of that we are not objects that are alive only for the use of other We are our own ends Treating someone with this ideal in mind would mean to see their humanity while recognizing they also have goals personal interests and morals of their own We as humans exist only for ourselves Although we do use people all the time Kant says this is okay When we do this we are using others as a means for something not purely as a mere means We are still able to realize that they are human when we use them and they also agree to be used An example of this would be helping your younger sibling with their math homework they are using you to gain information because you agreed to help them Unlike other things in the world we are a self governing species Were able to set our own ends to make our own decisions based on our own free will We can set goals for ourselves and take steps to further ourselves towards that goal Kant is only trying to drive further home that message through his teachings and his explanation of Categorical Imperatives

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