Arguments Against Kantian Ethics

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Kantian ethics and the ethics of Kant are fundamentally separate ideas. The ethical framework Kant laid out in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of morals can be interpreted in a way which Kant himself would not adopt. This framework is based upon his three categorical imperatives, which Kant suggests our synonymous with each other. Later however, I will show how through a different application of Kantian ethics, one can radically diverge from his viewpoint, to disagree with Kant’s argument that it is morally wrong to make a promise one has no intention of keeping.

Kant uses the first formulation of the categorical imperative as a way of justifying how false promising is morally wrong. He brings up this particular ethical statement as a way
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This is however slightly too simplistic, relying too much on a subjective application of the first categorical imperative. Hegel criticises Kantian ethics on such grounds, stating that by rephrasing the rule, it appears possible to universalise almost any statement. ‘Whenever someone is dying from want of money, and the sum is small enough to bear little burden on the lender, then we can make a promise we have no intention of keeping.’ One might argue that under such circumstances, the concept of promise keeping is not entirely contradicted, and the rule is universalisable. Indeed, it appears that by making a universalised principle at least partly specific to circumstance or group, one can very easily circumvent the problems of contradiction which Kant outlines. There still however appears something wrong in doing so. Clearly Kant’s intention was not only to universalise, but to generalise the situation, to be able to compare one moral action to another. By introducing specificity into such rules, even if they allow us to get around Kant’s absolutism, we kill the ethic through an overburdening number of exceptional instances. This seems distant to Kant, such criticism should only require one to state that there is in fact a right and wrong way to rephrase an argument, and any way which includes specificity doesn’t follow the correct …show more content…
One of these is his second formulation of the categorical imperative, to not treat people as means to an end, but as ends in themselves.1 One cannot use another being for personal gain or collective reward. Instead, we must leave the option for each person to apply their own rational will. In Kant’s example of the borrower who knows he cannot pay the money back, yet still does so pretending that he can, it’s the act of promising that treats the loaner as a means, and not an end in himself. The loaner is not in a position to use his reason, and his own dignity is not being treated with respect by the false promiser. The act of false promising appears to always have this inherent personal link: there is always one who comes off badly from it, and is being treated as a means to an end, no matter the example. It is therefore Kant’s concept of dignity and views on humanity which make the action wrong. By treating humans as a means, we are negating their rationality, their ability to make a freely informed decision, and descending them to a position in which, in Kant’s eyes, one should only reserve for objects and animals. For Kant, such treatment infringes upon their very right to property and freedom, and that can only occur if one was willing to liken humans to

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