Kant's Theory Of Ethics Analysis

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Assess Kant’s view that ethics should be based on duty not consequences.

Philosopher Immanuel Kant proposed his theory of ethics in his 1785 book ‘Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals’. He essentially argued that moral decisions shouldn’t be based on their consequences but rather our moral duty. The deontological approach to ethics is reasonable and straightforward; it provides a stability and certainty that cannot be achieved by looking at consequences. This being said, I feel as though the outcome of an action does affect its ‘goodness’ even if unknown- consequences shouldn’t be overlooked, therefore I disagree with Kant.

Kant (1724-1804) believed that the instructions/moral code we live by should be categorical imperatives not hypothetical
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Kant says that an action cannot be deemed as completely moral if it cannot be universalised. The principle is very just as it rules out the possibility of making exceptions for yourself, obligating you to keep your promises and act towards a certain moral standard. For example if you needed to lie in a situation, you need to think what if everyone lied? The situation would result in chaos and the whole idea of truth being questioned too, as human relationships need trust to function the causality of lying would mean trust would be impossible. On a grand scale, lying is typically associated with being negative but sometimes lying is used in our daily lives to be more moral e.g. telling white lies to make someone feel better. Kant would still rule these out as in his view all lying is wrong. Benjamin Constant put forward the question of the inquiring murderer at the door. If a murderer came to your door asking you for the whereabouts of your friend (whom you know is upstairs) in order to kill them. Your maxim of lying would seem like the right thing to do to protect your friend, however Kant says that this would go against your duty and therefore you would in fact have to tell the murderer the truth. Kant chooses to look at the act as an isolated action, in that situation all you are doing is telling the truth-whatever follows (regardless of how unfortunate) is automatically not your fault as consequences do not play a …show more content…
The second formulation is the ‘Principle of Ends not Means’, it works on the basis that all people are equal and therefore it is wrong to exploit others or use them for personal benefits. This formulation shows how Kant had a respect for the value of humans, which is obviously important for an ethical theory; Kant believed that all people were an end in themselves. It also displays the importance of intention. You shouldn’t carry out an act that you know will treat someone as just a means, even if it benefits a greater good (contrast to utilitarianism). Kant thought that through helping others gain happiness (not treating them as just means) we also developed our own moral perfection- this also links in with Kant’s desire for a better society overall. This formulation gives importance to the individuals well being which is a very fair system that we can easily apply to situations evident today such a sweatshops being wrong as the workers are

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