Thomas Hobbes vs. Immanuel Kant Essay

1703 Words Apr 21st, 2012 7 Pages
Thomas Hobbes Vs. Immanuel Kant
PART 1: Thomas Hobbes
“Everyone is governed by his own reason, and there is nothing he can make use of that may not be a help unto him in preserving his life against his enemies (Hobbes, 120).” Thomas Hobbes, who is a considered a rational egoist, makes this point in his book Leviathan. Hobbes believes that the means of person’s actions can only be amounted to how it ultimately affects that person. Our moral duties that we perform in the end, all stem from self-interest, rather than being justified as morally right or wrong. Hobbes states that our desires pit us against one another, and the only way to protect our self-interests is to create a common power that protects the people who consent to it.
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No one wants to be in conflict with each other and in a constant power struggle, people acting out of duty, even if calls for actions that have no means or gains to oneself is the only maintain contract. Acting out of self-interest creates turmoil, and only through good will can people conform to their duties and feel a sense of moral worth through their actions.
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PART 3: Thomas Hobbes
Hobbes over comes Kant’s criticism that people should act out of good will by arguing that people never act purely with altruistic motives. If society as a whole acted based on what actions have moral worth, and had no means to an end, society could never prosper. People are instinctively always looking to better themselves and Kant can agree, “Persevering one’s life is a duty (Kant, 105)”. As our duty, whether it is morally right or wrong we must do what is necessary. This agrees with Kant’s idea that if everyone’s maxim agrees to self-preserve, it is ultimately a universal law to act out of ones self-interest to do so, in the end contradicting his idea that we must exclusively act out of moral goodness. Kant also states that good will must be good in itself, but does not define what is truly morally good or bad. If a person is a volunteer firefighter, Kant can say that this person is acting out of self-interest (feel good about helping others), so his actions have no moral worth. By stating this he claims that people in society acting with conformity to their

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