Kant's Obligation Analysis

1936 Words 8 Pages
Although Butler and the other moral sentimentalists saved morality from many of the failures of natural law theory, Butler’s theory of obligation from conscience alone provides insufficient obligation. In actuality, conscience is a limited and weak authority. According to Butler’s argument, conscience alone is sufficient for constraining people to act morally. Yet, if conscious was a strong enough source of obligation there would be no need for government, laws, and other external sources of obligation. People regularly defy their conscience, despite having a conscience to instill obligation upon them. As such, people require additional sources of moral obligation. It follows from this that conscience is too weak to obligate both people and …show more content…
In her article on Kant’s Analysis of Obligation, Christine M. Korsgaard argues that moral obligation for Kant comes by virtue of peoples’ autonomy and their ability to legislate the moral law unto themselves. For Kant, obligation comes when people imposed duties and laws upon themselves, which are derived from the categorical imperative. According to Kant: “There is, therefore, only one categorical imperative. It is: Act only accruing to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” (Korsgaard 314). For Kant, the categorical imperative serves as a decision procedure to determine if one’s action is morally right. To use the categorical imperative, one must first identify the maxim of one’s action. Second, one must universalize that maxim, and finally, one must then look for a contradiction between the two. If there is a contradiction, then there is a moral duty against acting on the supposed …show more content…
In moral philosophy, Kant’s rationalism can be contrasted to Hume’s sentimentalism. Kant held that moral principles must be derived a priori from reason and as such all morality must be grounded in these principles. Likewise, Hume argued moral principles are ruled by the sentiments and passions and that all morality can be explained by conflicting passions. For Kant moral judgments are made from reason and logic, while for Hume, moral judgment is derived from sentiments and passions, and by acting on whichever of the passions is the

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