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Kantian Morality Essay

1056 words - 4 pages

Kantian Morality

     Kant's theory of morality seems to function as the most feasible in

determining one's duty in a moral situation. The basis for his theory is

perhaps the most noble of any-- acting morally because doing so is morally

right. His ideas, no matter how occasionally vague or overly rigid, work

easily and efficiently in most situations. Some exceptions do exist, but the

strength of those exceptions may be somewhat diminished by looking at the

way the actual situations are presented and the way in which they are

handled. But despite these exceptions, the process Kant describes of

converting maxims to universal laws to test their moral permissibility serves,

in general, as a useful guide to and system of ethics and morality.

     The Kantian Theory of Ethics hinges upon the concept of the

Categorical Imperative, or the process of universalization. Kant describes

taking a possible action, a maxim, and testing whether it is morally

permissible for a person to act in that manner by seeing if it would be

morally permissible for all people in all times to act in that same

manner. Thus, Kant says that an action is morally permissible in one

instance if the action is universally permissible in all instances. In fact, parts

of the theory even say that it is one's moral duty to act on these

universalizable maxims, and that people should only act on those maxims

that can be universalized.

     The stability of Kant's theory rests not only on the fact that it is

completely objective-- every action is definitely either morally permissible

or not-- but also on the fact that the theory is non-consequentialist. Kant

truly does not look to the consequences of an action to see whether the

action is morally permissible, but rather to the morality of the action itself.

Kant assumes that universal morality is inherent in being, thus avoiding

complications in trying to determine which actions lead to better

consequences. However, Kant does not speak of perfect and imperfect moral

duties, those duties that respectively do or do not involve qualifications as to

the particulars of the situation at hand, thus complicating the issue.

     Several objections can be raised to the theory Kant sets forth, but each

of them seems to stem from the thought that the theory cannot account for

all actions and situations. Certain moral duties, for instance, are brought

about by relying on more than just the Categorical Imperative and process of

universalization, specifically on the subjective definitions of certain terms

and ideas about what is and is not and of itself moral. Also, one might say

that in some situations a maxim that can be universalized is still not morally

permissible, while one that cannot be universalized is indeed permissible. In

all these situations though, it seems at least...

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