Explain Kants Theory of Ethics

1578 words 7 pages
A: Explain Kant’s theory of ethics
Kant was born in 1724-1804, he was a German thinker from East Prussia (now Russia), and he spent his whole life in his hometown. Kant wanted to create a logical, stand-alone theory that wasn’t just based on assumptions, he believed in an objective right or wrong that is decided on reason and that we shouldn’t do the right thing just because it’s right and not to fulfil our desires. Can we lead a life following his ideals are there not some situations where a perfect moral decision cannot be made, are all our choices fuelled by personal gain and desire?
He has a deontological and absolute approach to ethics, to Kant what makes an action good is when you do your ‘duty’ and that one’s duty is to always
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However it needs to be clear that despite this autonomy this does not mean that everyone can just decide their own morality but rather that each individual has the ability to understand the principles of pure practical reason and follow them. It is impartial and must apply to everyone. If one maxim is disproved then the law becomes immoral and can’t be universalised.
Kant also talked about good will and duty, to Kant the ‘greatest good or summon bonum’ is what Kant terms as good will. Someone of good will is not good because of what they achieve (the consequence) but because he/she acts out of duty. Good will to Kant is the only thing that is truly pure, as we can get our reasoning wrong or it can be manipulated, but to have the good will to perform your duty cannot be manipulated or got wrong. Kant contrasted ‘doing your duty’ with ‘giving into your emotions’ or doing what you feel like. The main two meanings of duty come into conflict as the first thought meaning of duty is to obey your superior, this is what the Nazi soldiers claimed innocence about when they were trialled for war crimes they were just following orders but is that moral? To obey the moral law do the right thing and think a situation through is Kant's meaning of


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