The Groundwork Of The Metaphysic Of Morals

1312 words - 5 pages

Can suicide be justified as morally correct? This is one of the many questions Immanuel Kant answers in, “The Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals”. Kant discusses many questions with arguable answers, which explains why he is one of the most controversial philosophers still today. Throughout Kant’s work, multiple ideas are considered, but the Categorical Imperative is one of the most prevalent. Though this concept is extremely dense, the Categorical Imperative is the law of freedom that grounds pure ethics of the metaphysics of ethics. Categorical imperatives are the basis of morality because they provoke pure reasons for every human beings actions. By the end of his work, one will understand Kant’s beliefs on morality, but to explain this, he goes into depth on the difference between hypothetical imperatives and Categorical Imperative, two different formulations of the Categorical Imperative, and a few examples.
According to Kant, there are two types on imperatives, categorical imperatives and hypothetical imperatives. The Categorical Imperative is based on relation and not by means, which hypothetical imperatives are based on. Kant describes them by stating, “When I conceive a hypothetical imperative in general, I do not know beforehand what it will contain- until its condition is give. But if I conceive a categorical imperative, I know at once what it contains,” (88). Like before, categorical imperatives are absolutely moral in themselves, meaning they do not rely on a person’s desires or feelings. This is compared with hypothetical imperatives, which are obligations that have an end result of your action, which in turn results in your personal desires or thoughts. An example of a hypothetical imperative is, “I need to eat properly if I want to achieve good health.” Good health demands eating properly so the action is determined by an end, or the means of achieving the action. On the other hand, there are few to none examples of a Categorical Imperative, because as Kant would believe, they have to be actions that are good in themselves completely. To arrive at the Categorical Imperative, Kant starts off by explaining that an action is good without qualification if done from duty and not primarily from inclination, or ulterior motives. This, in a more simplified manner, means an action is good if it was the right thing to do and a person did it for the sake of duty and not because of anything else, like instincts or feelings. Kant believes there are very few people in this world that can actually live up to the standard of duty. From this point, Kant states that moral worth is determined by the rule or principle by which an action has been decided, not in the purpose to be attained by it. This statement goes back to the difference of means versus ends; is a person’s action based on the mean or is it based on ends? After Kant arrives at this, he then affirms that duty is the reverence for the law. The difference between reason and will is...

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