15 September 2012
Philosophy 203, Section 010
Immanuel Kant’s Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals starts off by saying there is only one thing that is good without qualification which is a good will. Something can only be good if it is well-matched with a good will. In fact, “a good will is” according to him, “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). He states that these specific obligations of a good will are called duties and then makes three propositions about them. Kant then says that “I should never act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim …show more content…
He says, “we shall take up the concept of duty though with certain subjective restrictions and hindrances rather bring it out by contrast and make it shine forth more brightly” (9). He divides the word duty into perfect and imperfect duties. Perfect duties, or “pure” (2) duties, are such things as do not murder or do not steal. Imperfect duties could be something like helping another in need. He then goes on to say that perfect duties never conflict with one another. Next that if a perfect and an imperfect duty coincide then one must act from the perfect duty. An example of this would be if to help another one would have to commit murder, then one must follow the perfect duty and not kill. This also means one would not help the other too. Lastly if the conflict is between two imperfect duties then one can choose between the two according to their own discretion. The process for defining ones duty is by looking at the …show more content…
Maxim refers to a principle or reason. This is saying that the moral worth is depending upon the reason for which one performs the action. In the grocery store example, the moral worth of his act to be fair to all the customers is moral because by the goodness of it being a moral law or duty, not by what it will bring oneself. The only maxims or principles that can be one are that which everyone agrees upon including oneself. If everyone acts on that maxim then the action itself has moral worth. The action has to be a universally agreed upon. One must ask themselves if this could be a law for everyone. If this is true then one’s action indeed has moral worth.
Lastly he states, “Duty is the necessity of an action done out of respect for the law.” One should act out of respect for the reason everyone could act on that maxim. One should act as an equal to when reasoning if the action is something everyone would act on. Again in the grocery store owner example he must treat all customers fairly because the maxim says he must obey this. One cannot make an exception for themselves and think they are higher than anyone else; the action needs to be consistent for every