Essay Assignment #2
Kant: Grounding for Metaphysics and Morals
Immanuel Kant states that the only thing in this world that is “good without qualification” is the good will. He states the attributes of character such as intelligence, wit, and judgment are considered good but can be used for the wrong reasons. Kant also states that the attributes of good fortune such as health, power, riches, honor, that provide one happiness can also be used in the wrong way (7). In order to understand Kant’s view of moral rightness, one must understand that only a good will is unambiguously good without qualification, it is “good in itself”. To clarify, Kant states that “a good will is good not because of what it effects or accomplishes, nor because of its fitness to attain some proposed end; it is good only through its willing, i.e. it is good in itself” (7). To Kant, a good will is the only thing that gives action moral worth. Human beings were granted with reason not only to attain self-preservation and a state of happiness, but “its true function must be to produce a will which is not merely good as a mean to some further end, but it good in itself” (9). Human beings are called to exercise reason through duty to bring a universal good to all. This duty, living according to our highest reason, must be exercised through action that is beneficial and non-contradictory to all. Duty has three major qualifications for Kant. One must recognize that duty is good in itself when an action is performed out of the need of the completion of the duty itself, such as one who abstains from supporting a large restaurant corporation that inhumanely raise cattle or poultry, because he or she recognizes that it is a duty to not perpetuate unethical practice. Or one who carefully recycles their waste not because of the pleasure of being an enlightened “green” individual, but because of the recognition that it is “good in itself” to reuse products. The second...