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Human Cloning And Immanuel Kant Essay

1135 words - 5 pages

Ruben GuizarPhilosophyOver the last decade, the advent of cloning andadvancements in human genetic research have presentedsociety with a complicated moral quandary. Debate rages asto what constitutes legitimate paths of inquiry and whereto draw the line as to research that strikes many people asmorally wrong. The basic question is: "how does societydetermine what's right?" While, of course, questionsregarding human genetic research are new, this basicquestion is as hold as civilization and has been addressedover and over again by history's great philosophers. One ofthe most notable philosophers of the modern era is ImmanuelKant, who was born in Prussia in 1724. Kant paid a greatdeal of attention to formulating a complex system ofmorality. The following examines Kantian morals andhow they might be applied to questions of human geneticresearch.Kant's moral theory is predicated on the idea of the"categorical imperative," which Kant described in thefollowing manner, "Act only on that maxim which you can atthe same time will to be a universal law"(Honderich, 1995,p. 436). By the term "maxim," Kant meant general rules orprinciples upon which rational individuals act, and thatthese principles reflect the end that an individual has inmind in choosing actions of a certain type in givencircumstances (Honderich, 1995). Therefore, maxims areprinciples in the following form: "When in an S-typesituation, act in an A-type manner in order to attain end-E" (Honderich, 1995, p. 436). For example, a person mightresolve to pay a bill as soon as it is received in order tonot incur any debt. Kant tested a maxim by performing athought experiment in which the individual asks oneselfwhether or not one would will a certain maxim to becomeuniversal law. As this suggests, moral law, in thephilosophy of Kant, is inherent in reason itself. It is apriori, before experience (Frost, 1962). In everycircumstance, Kant believed that "categorical imperative"provides a sure criterion for how to evaluate right andwrong (Frost, 1962). Kant maintained that an action thatthe individual can easily will that everyone should followand perform would necessarily have to be a good act(Frost, 1962).Morality for Kant not only involved law (categoricalimperative) but also the ultimate end to which action isdirected. As the formulation of the concept of categoricalimperative suggests, the basic problem for Kant was todiscern the meaning of "right and wrong, good and bad"(Frost, 1962, p. 94). Fundamental to Kant's thinking wasthe principle formulated by Rousseau that the onlyfundamentally good thing in the universe is the "human willgoverned by respect for the moral law or theconsciousness of duty" (Frost, 1962, p. 94). He considereda moral act to be one that is performed out of respect formoral law, rather than for selfish gain or sympathy forothers (Frost, 1962).Therefore, unlike other moral systems, Kant did notsee consequences as the criteria for determining the moralvalue of a specific action....

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