Immanuel Kant - Metaphysics of Morals Essay

1564 Words Feb 27th, 2002 7 Pages
In his publication, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, Immanuel Kant supplies his readers with a thesis that claims morality can be derived from the principle of the categorical imperative. The strongest argument to support his thesis is the difference between actions in accordance with duty and actions in accordance from duty. To setup his thesis, Kant first draws a distinction between empirical and "a priori" concepts. Empirical concepts are ideas we reach from our experiences in the world. On the other hand and in contrast, "a priori" concepts are ideas we reach as an end point of reasoning prior to or apart from any experience of how things occur in the world. Kant then claims that moral actions are supposed done for the …show more content…
This is because the definition of happiness differs from person to person. One man's happiness can very well be another man's misery. As Kant explains, a binding moral law then cannot be equivalent or parallel to a hypothetical imperative. Pure reason comes from the ability to consider neither a motivating condition accompanying another nor its intended results. With that, we then need to find a principle with universal validity or a principle that is valid no matter what issue is being considered. "A priori" principles of reason are the only principles that fit this standard on which a judgment or decision may be based. Hence, Immanuel Kant formulates that a moral imperative is one that is an unconditional or categorical imperative. A categorical imperative is our moral consciousness to do our duty because we ought to do our duty instead of pursuing our own desires attached to the duty. Such an imperative is driven by pure reason. Because we exclude our desires or maxims, we need only to focus on the form of our imperative. The form needs to be universally applicable or valid for all rational beings to follow. Thus, Kant gives us only one categorical imperative and it is "Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law" (Kant pg.38). This universal law of morality states that we should act in such a way that we could will the maxim

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