Why Is Jean Valjean Morally Wrong

1396 Words 6 Pages
Within this paper, I will argue that the decision that Jean Valjean decided on, stealing the loaf of bread for his nieces and nephews, was morally wrong. There are many reasons that I believe he was morally wrong and unjust. According to the theories of Immanuel Kant, Jean Valjean has been shown to have made a morally wrong decision. I agree with Kant and I believe this for many reasons, including his moral actions, the categorical imperative, his types of duties, the autonomy of the will, also the way he acted on inclination. All of the noted concepts are interrelated in many ways. I have confidence in the association between what Jean Valjean has done and Kant’s theory that he was in the wrong for what he has done. According to Kant, a …show more content…
Kant refers to an imperative as an obligation to do something. Kant explains “the categorical imperative declares the action to be objectively necessary without referring to any end in view … hold as apodictic practical principle” (Kant, pg.35). Within the categorical imperative types of duties are part of the formula. A human being can be faced with two types of duties, perfect duties and imperfect duties. Within the two types of duties are two different people the action could affect; oneself or others. A perfect action to yourself, not harming yourself intentionally, whereas a perfect duty to others is following through with a commitment. An imperfect duty to oneself is completing things you enjoy; and an imperfect duty to others is helping others to any extent. In short, an imperfect duty is determined by the degree in which an action is performed, and contrary to that, a perfect duty has no relation to degrees, you either go thought with the action or not, no in between. Jean Valjean sole the loaf of bread for his nieces and nephews, in which he was demonstrating an imperfect duty to others. He was not presenting any duties toward himself. Jean Valjean was faced with a conflict of duty when deciding if he should steal the bread or not. Not only did he break the law he also tried to escape the prison many times, all in which he was morally wrong for. Kant also explains other …show more content…
Kant has suggested, “Also I have shown above how the only action-driver that can give an action moral value is respect for the law, not any kind of fear or desire” (Kant, pg.36). Respect for the law is what we follow as a society and according to Kant, a human agent cannot be morally correct if they are not able to abide by the rules of the law no matter what the circumstances are. The concept of autonomy of the will, according to Kant, is the ultimate factor in defining moral actions. He stated that the autonomous will is self-legislating and that individuals should select a way that their actions are assimilated within a universal and necessary law (Kant, pg.37). Jean Valjean did not show any signs that he had an autonomous will, again because his actions were not universalized or necessary. Jean would have shown autonomy of the will if he would have inquired about employment at the bakery or finding other means of income for food. Working for a living is a part of autonomy of the will because it is universal and

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