Grounding For The Metaphysics Of Moral Analysis

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Many philosophers are often both praised and criticized for their radical claims regarding their definition of ethical actions and their assertions concerning morality. Of these philosophers is Immanuel Kant. In his work, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant establishes his notion regarding ethics most notably known as the deontological theory. This theory dictates the relationship between duty and the morality of actions, such that the morality of any given action is solely based upon if the intent of that action was to follow a set or rules, or as Kant denotes, duties. Through the establishment of the categorical imperative, Kant further develops the role of duties as well as the role of conscious in ethical decision-making…show more content…
He starts off by stating that the only thing that is intrinsically and unambiguously good is good will. He claims that “a good will is good not because of what it effects or accomplishes, nor because of its fitness to attain some proposed end; it is good only through its willing, i.e., it is good in itself” (Kant, 7). This is a reasonable assertion, because it portrays the idea that the morality of one’s actions cannot be judged based off of their outcomes, but rather whether the intent of that action was out of the good will, or benevolence, of the person performing the action. For example, if a merchant were to lower the prices of his or her goods, this may seem like an ethical action because it appears as if he or she is doing it for the well-being of the customers, i.e., the merchant is changing the prices out of good will or kind heartedness. However, the merchant may actually be lowering the prices so that he or she can compete with other merchants who sell the same goods. If this were the case, then the merchant would be treating the customers as a means to an end, and not as an end in itself, which Kant would argue is…show more content…
Hypothetical imperatives tell us how we must act if we want to achieve a specific goal, such as studying for an exam to receive a high grade. This is contrasted with the categorical imperative, however, which is not subject to conditions and tells us that we should act without respect to ulterior motives or ends. In this sense, the categorical imperative is an end in itself, that is, an end that is a means solely to itself and not to some other desire or some other purpose. This helps us to understand the morality conflict with the merchant. In the latter action, where the merchant lowers to prices to compete, he or she is using the customers as a means for competition with an end goal of gaining a physical desire, money. This, therefore, is an immoral action because the merchant acted with an ulterior motive. This idea of means and ends is further developed by Kant when he introduces the treatment of other individuals. He claims that we should always treat other rational beings not just as a means to some end, but rather as ends in themselves. Although this may sound confusing, he is essentially saying that you should treat individuals with respect to how you would want them to treat you if put in the same situation. This is reinforced by his theory of universalizability, which bases morality off of whether the maxim of one’s action could be an action

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