Kants Moral Thoery

Topics: Ethics, Immanuel Kant, Morality Pages: 3 (851 words) Published: September 2, 2012
(1) Explain Kant’s moral theory. Explain and critique Kant’s response to “The Nazis Objection.”  Immanuel Kant is one of the most respected and studied philosopher of all time and is known for his basic yet in-depth moral theories and the belief that morality stems not from divine command or cultural conditioning but from reasoning and human freedom. His straight forward beliefs come from his very strict Lutheran upbringing which consisted of universal rights and universal wrongs with no exceptions(. He believed his moral laws to be universal and applied to every being including God, spirits and extraterrestrials. His ethics made him a leading figure in deontology which judges people on their actions, not the consequences of their actions, as morally significant. And actions are only as good as their intent to be morally permissible.

Kant introduced two commandments of reason, called imperatives, from which all obligations and duties arise. The first imperative is called a hypothetical imperative which Kant describes as, “the practical necessity of a possible action as means to another end”(Kant, p.327). This means if you want “A” then you must do “B”, such as if you want people to think you a thief, then you shouldn’t steal. This imperative is dependent upon our wants and goals which are ultimately rooted in self interest. The second imperative, which Kant bases the majority of his moral theory on, is called a categorical imperative which has no “if” in it and is a concrete universal law. Kant defines this imperative as “an action that is objectively necessary in itself without reference to any purpose”(Kant, p.327). The categorical imperative of the example listed above would simply be “don’t steal”, because it against moral law. These imperatives rule out all self interest and are very blunt to what is right. Kant’s moral laws are laws that apply to everyone and everything without question. All things that should be done are required by moral law and all...
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