Immanuel Kant was a deontologists from Germany in the eithteenth century. He believed that the only test of whether a decision is right or wrong is whether it could be applied to everyone. Would it be all right for everyone to do what you are doing? If not, your decision is wrong. It would be wrong, for example, to make a promise with the intention of breaking it because if everyone did that, no one would believe anyone's promises. In ethics, Kant tried to show that doing one's duty consisted in following only those principles that one would accept as applying equally to all.
Kant objects most of all to the principle that one's own happiness can be the ground of morality. He rejects this possibility because well-being is not always proportionate to virtuous behavior. By this I mean that one manÕs well being is not always universal to all. Most significantly, Kant renounces happiness as the principle of morality because it obliterates the specific difference between virtue and vices.
Universality is the form of a moral law whereby all rational beings are subject to the same condition as the basis of morality. Kant argues that there can be principles for action that do not admit of exceptions, and that this occurs through practical reason. In other words, the possibility for morality does not hinge on the empirical world, but rather is a feature of the nature of the entity that is the ground for morality. Since all rational beings have reason, the good rational being is one who obeys a universal moral law. This is to act according to an objective standard which is independent of personal desires and ends. According to Kant, the moral law appears as a command to humans because they do not have a will that is invariably determined by practical reason. Although the will of an imperfect rational being has the capacity to act according to rational principles, its reason does not have full control over the inclinations.
Kant does think that... [continues]
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