Phil - Kant Deontology

Topics: Ethics, Virtue, Morality Pages: 3 (1030 words) Published: February 10, 2013
Immanuel Kant is one of the most important and influential philosophers of the Western world. Kant focused much of his work on developing ethical theories and fundamental moral principles. One of his most famous theories is deontology. Deontology is an approach to ethics that judges the morality of an action based on the action's adherence to a set of rules. It states that one should act out of duty or obligation because rules are what essentially bind you to your social and communal duty to do good.

Kant argued that the only absolutely good thing is a good will. In Kant's terms, a good will is a will that’s decisions are wholly determined by moral demands or as he often refers to this, by the Moral Law. Moreover, he argues that a dutiful action based out of motivations such as self-interest, self-preservation, or self-happiness, is an action that does not express a good will. For instance, if one’s actions were based on self-happiness, then his or her duty to perform that action may not have been done if it wasn’t for their selfish motivations. On the contrary, if one were to replace these selfish motivations with the motive of moral duty, the morality of the action would then express one's determination to act dutifully under any circumstances. In our society, laws or rules of the state or city are what establish the rightful duties of citizens. Thus, if we do something because it if our lawful duty, our motivation is out of respect for the moral and legal code that makes it our duty.

Furthermore, Kantian ethics assesses actions by looking at the maxims of agents. According to Kant, the maxim must be accepted universally and if so the action is deemed to be morally good. If someone was acting on a bad maxim, for example ‘lying’, then their action is considered wrong regardless of the consequences. Although good intentions may possibly lead to bad consequences, Kant claims that a person has a good will when he or she acts out of respect for the moral law....
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