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An Exposition Of Kant’s, Arendt’s, And Mill’s Moral Philosophy

2811 words - 12 pages

Immanuel Kant adheres to Deontological ethics. His theory offers a view of morality based on the principle of good will and duty. According to him, people can perform good actions solely by good intentions without any considerations to consequences. In addition, one must follow the laws and the categorical imperative in order to act in accordance with and from duty. Several other philosophers such as Hannah Arendt discuss Kant’s moral philosophy. In her case study: “The Accused and Duties of a Law-Abiding Citizen”, Arendt examines how Adolf Eichmann’s actions conformed to Kant’s moral precepts but also how they ran of afoul to his conception of duty. In contrast, John Stuart Mill adopts a ...view middle of the document...

102). The second one states that we ought to treat humanity, whether in our own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means (Kant, P.105). In order to obey the categorical imperative, people have to act on a maxim that can be universalized. For instance, Kant argues that a lying promise is bad since it does not pass the universality test. Whenever a person makes a promise knowing that he will have to break it, he violates the first formulation of the categorical imperative. He intends to make use of another man merely as a means to an end which the latter does not likewise hold (Kant, P.105). In other words, Kant does not believe that lying promises are bad due to the fact that they generate bad consequences but because they result in a practical contradiction. According to him, people can’t lie since they can’t act for the results. Considering the second formulation of the CI, we have the need to have others working for us limited to some morality principles without treating them merely as a means. Kant believes that even though we have the ability to create our own ends, we can’t use people for our own devise. If we interfere with others to pursue their end while pursuing our own end, we violate their autonomy. We can’t have double standards for ourselves and for others. It is morally obligatory for us to respect others since people are rational agents. We must respect everyone in the exact same way and treat them as autonomous. As rational beings, humans are systematically united through common laws within the Kingdom of Ends. We belong to this kingdom as a member when we legislate in it universal laws while also being ourselves subject to these laws (Kant, P.107). According to Kant, everyone, no matter who they are, should be both the legislator and the follower of moral laws (Kant, P.95). Overall, Kant’s theory emphasizes that no one is an exception to moral laws, that people must act on strongly held beliefs or duties that are not in their own interest, and that we should never use people.
Kant’s supreme principle of morality is also based on reason. According to him, acting on principle signifies that we should do something simply because it is the right thing to do. In addition, he argues that the morality of an act depends on a person’s intentions. A moral act is one done for the right reasons, even if it has bad consequences or it is not in the agent’s best interest. In other words, the highest function of reason is to establish good will, not happiness (Kant, P.96). In his view of morality, self-interest and duty come into conflict since performing one’s duty does not necessarily make someone or others happy. In fact, being ethical often hurts. Overall, happiness plays almost no role in Kant’s morality. In his opinion, a good will is not good because it tries to promote some good end. Firstly, a good will is always good, good unconditionally, and never in any way bad. Secondly,...

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