In this essay I’m going to address questions concerning Kant’s grounding for the metaphysics of morals. First, I will describe each of his examples of acts done out of desire and acts done out of duty. Then I will answer the following questions: 1. What conclusion about moral worth does Kant use these examples to illustrate? 2. Whether I agree or disagree with Kant that if you perform an action out of duty, then the act has more moral worth that it would if you were to perform it out of the desire to make someone else happy—using my own example of a moral act done out of the desire to make someone else happy.
Kant believed that we could act on desires or on reason. He used the case of a shopkeeper and a reluctant benefactor to illustrate this. In the case of the shopkeeper, the shopkeeper’s purpose was to make an easy profit and his means of doing so was to shortchange his customers. His actions were not done out of duty but out of self-interest. He says, “Hence the action was done neither from duty nor from immediate inclination, but merely for a selfish purpose”(986). In contrast, the reluctant benefactor—being a person that has no desire to act on something—just does it because it’s the right thing to do.
Having described Kant’s examples of acts done out of duty and desire, I will know discuss the conclusion he makes about moral worth using these examples. Kant makes the conclusion that in order for a person’s actions to have moral worth they must be done without desire.
For example, Kant would agree that if a young male holds open doors for ladies because he likes holding doors open for women, he likes the response he receives from them for holding open the door, or even feels appreciated by his peers for his manners, his actions hold no moral value. His actions are being done to make someone else fell happy. I do not agree with Kant that if you perform an action out of duty, the act has more moral worth than if you were to perform it...