According to Immanuel Kant, any action a moral agent commits out of sympathy or a subjective desire has no moral value, in turn, any action a moral agent commits out of duty or obedience has a moral value. Even when a subjective desire motivates an action to achieve a positive outcome, it is still considered morally worthless.
This paper will discuss the motivations and incentives behind actions committed by moral agents. It will also cover the differences between a subjectively or objectively motivated action and how moral value is assigned to these actions.
Sympathy, Subjective Desire and Actions
Actions are motivated and preformed with incentive, these are based on objective and subjective grounds; the only true moral incentive …show more content…
346), these goals act as a means to guide society as a whole to the same general good. Moral Value of Actions
The ability for a moral agent to act rests on their possession of free will, this involves having a will to do something that is exempt from rules or regulations (Campbell, 1951, p. 442); these rules and regulations comprise of prescriptive and descriptive law; that which is imposed by the civil authority and that which the sciences intend to invent in order to understand daily events.
In order to determine whether a moral agent has free will, it must be questioned if a personal desire can be translated into an action (Campbell, 1951, p. 445); sometimes a moral agent is in a position where they can make this translation and sometimes they can’t.
Objective beliefs are completely independent of an individuals belief system and personal preferences (Lawandbioethics.com, 2015); both moral and non-moral standards are objective based on the viewer’s observation of the circumstances. These preferences and standards affect the moral worth of an action only if it is done from a place of duty (Rickless, 2004), and a sense of duty derives from an agent’s respect for the …show more content…
134); this stems from the constant pursuit of a morally valuable and just life, basing decisions on this ideal can rule out the best possible outcome for others.
Kantian ethics are grounded on the dignity of rationality within nature; the nature of society is such that all moral agents should act in accordance with their duties and obligations (Wood, 1999, p. 3); one must obey the commands of the law even if the authority that dictates the law is unjust as it isn’t the agent’s job to dictate when to act and when to omit to act.
While Immanuel Kant condones actions committed out of sympathy and actions committed out of duty, he is found to prefer that all actions are committed out of a duty or obedience for a rule or law.
Moral agents are motivated by pre-existing factors that have formed through previous experiences, this affects how they decide to or decide not to act in any given situation. There are however, actions that a moral agent is expected to do regardless of their desires. These actions hold a certain moral value based on the outcome they bring about and the process the moral agent underwent to reach the outcome; this moral value is given based on the general goodness of the decision to action to outcome