Kantian Ethics AS Essay

Topics: Immanuel Kant, Ethics, Morality Pages: 3 (1289 words) Published: October 7, 2014

[A]Explain Kantian ethics.

Immanuel Kant was born in 1724 and was a renowned German philosopher with huge influences on modern philosophy. He was perhaps most known for his work ‘Critique of Practical Reason’ which looked at the way we as humans use reason to arrive at result. This work with reason was his most significant, aimed as a response to empiricism and rationalism. Kant’s ethical standpoint was also extremely significant and was based strongly around the idea we are duty bound to do the ethically right thing.

His ethical theory is a deontological one, concerned with ensuring actions are moral as oppose to necessarily moral consequences. This is normally best demonstrated using a common thought experiment where a German SS officer arrives at your door whilst you are hiding a Jew upstairs. An individual who abides by relative morals would base their decision on the fact that if they gave up the Jew, they would be killed. As a result they would most likely lie about the presence of said Jew. This is a consequentialist view. From a Kantian Ethics standpoint, one would consider it their Kantian duty to tell the truth, regardless of the immoral outcome. This kind of moral thinking allows rules to be univeralisable and arguably allows justice to be done every time.

As mentioned briefly already his views opposed those of empiricists and rationalist, mainly because it was his belief that we could not deduce morality from nature. Whilst not agreeing with either of them, his views leant more towards the rationalist views of philosophers such as Descartes. He said that we cannot ever entirely know the world for real as we experience it through our limited senses. Even things believed to be fact in fields such as science, are ultimately still interpretation through the senses. This can be linked to Descartes famous quote “I think therefore I am”. The only thing that we can be sure of is that we our thinking, anything else is influenced by the sense...
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