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Kant's Views On Morality Essay

1175 words - 5 pages

Morality has been a subject of many philosophical discussions that has prompted varied responses from different philosophers. One of the most famous approaches to morality is that of Immanuel Kant in his writing Groundwork of Metaphysics of Morals. Kant in this work argues that the reason for doing a particular action or the drive to do good things is a fundamental basis of defining moral quality in a person. To him, an action could be considered morally right only if the motivation behind doing that action was out of ‘goodwill’. When he defines these moral rules, he characterizes them in the form of imperatives – the hypothetical imperative and categorical imperative. While hypothetical imperatives deal with motivations and actions that lead to a particular end, categorical imperatives are a product of rational behavior in human beings. Kant considers such categorical imperatives to be the moral basis for life.
As a result, when a person who is “cold and indifferent to the sufferings of others’ does an action that elicits a positive response from someone by helping them, he is more morally worthy according to Kant. Such a person does this action even when he does not want or feel like doing that action. There is neither emotional payback in the form of contentment nor material benefits of helping someone else. Emotional selflessness brings the moral worth in the action of helping others. Hence, according to Kant, there must be something in that person that motivates them to help others even though they get nothing out of it and this motivation is the product of rational thinking, that provides for a better moral worth. On the other hand when a person “is a sympathetic, compassionate philanthropist who finds an inner satisfaction in spreading joy around them” does something good, he is not morally worthy because his actions are not motivated by reason. Such a person does an action because it gives them happiness and delight in helping others. This happiness is something that they get in return for being altruistic with others. According to Kant, this has a reduced moral worth over the former type of action.
Furthermore, when it is not of a person’s nature as suggested by Kant to help someone else, then he is doing something against those instincts that direct him to not help. As a result, the person does the good action after thinking through something rationally and does not act on the impulse of doing what is good. From this analysis that Kant provides, he considers morality as arising more from the rational and logical side of the brain and considers the emotional part to be meaningless in the definition. Morality through this lens is something that a person is not born with but rather a product of being a rationally thinking being that can reason the importance of helping others. With such a view, it is no surprise that he does not hold a person who gains happiness and contentment from helping others in the same moral scale as someone who...

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