If a crazed gunman demands that you reveal which way his potential victim has fled, you must not lie to save him because this could not be universalisable as a rule of behaviour, Kant seems to tell us. This is especially so for the most-read sections of the first Critique—the Aesthetic, Analytic and Dialectic. And just as the discovery of universal laws is absolutely central to natural science, so is the search for universal laws central to human morality. The converse also applies: if the will is free, then it must be governed by a rule, but a rule whose content does not restrict the freedom of the will. If the maxim could work as a rule, then actions based on it will be morally right. Metaphysical speculation on the noumenal world is avoided.
Consequently, Kant argued, hypothetical moral systems cannot persuade moral action or be regarded as bases for moral judgments against others, because the imperatives on which they are based rely too heavily on subjective considerations. Moral education should exploit this natural human tendency for moral evaluation by presenting the students with historical examples of good and evil actions. If you could, then your action is morally permissible. So since we cannot will as a universal law of nature that no one ever develop any talents — given that it is inconsistent with what we now see that we rationally will — we are forbidden from adopting the maxim of refusing to develop any of our own. Rightness, on the standard reading of Kant, is not grounded in the value of outcomes or character. One can not will that people lie all the time for that would mean the end to human communications if we could not trust what was said to be true most, if not all, of the time.
Kant has shown that truly moral behavior requires more than just the outward show of good behavior; it also requires the right inner motivations. The distinction between ends that we might or might not will and those, if any, we necessarily will as the kinds of natural beings we are, is the basis for his distinction between two kinds of hypothetical imperatives. We also have an eye toward doing our part in maintaining civil or social order, toward punishments or loss of standing and reputation in violating such laws, and other outcomes of lawful behavior. The perfect world for a thief would be one in which everyone else always respected private property. Such a view does not assume that we are necessarily bound to our interests and inclinations as the instrumental account does. To act morally, it is necessary to have a good will for example to help someone just because it would be the right thing to do in the certain situation.
Since it would be contradictory to universalize the maxim of taking one's own life if it promises more misery than satisfaction 1 , he argued, we have a perfect duty to ourselves not to commit suicide. Not only that, but cultivating one's talents is a duty to oneself. Whereas the hypothetical imperative is acting in order to receive some kind of reward. Although Kant conceded that there could be no conceivable example of free will, because any example would only show us a will as it appears to us — as a subject of natural laws — he nevertheless argued against. This is not what the Kantian Principle would support.
According to Kant, man has the imperfect duty to strengthen the feeling of compassion, since this feeling promotes morality in relation to other human beings. Now, suppose that I end up on an otherwise deserted island with my best friend as my sole company. Morality is made up of 'categorical imperatives ' meaning that you should do something simply because they are the… 1305 Words 6 Pages wrong actions. While morality is, for Kant, the sole unconditional good for human beings, he certainly does not deny that happiness is an important good, and indeed the natural and necessary end of every human being cf. For example, we have an obligation not to kill ourselves as well as an obligation not to kill others.
Following Hume, many philosophers hold that practical reasoning is essentially instrumental. The utilitarian would say that he is a bad person nevertheless, as he has caused massive amounts of suffering. As discussed in a moment §1. So Kant goes forward to reject Artistotle's ideas that a rational agent seeks to gain virtues. One more point about the universalization of acts: even if you insist that a world could exist where everyone lied all the time, would you really want to live there? It does not involve the fantasy that we already know or intuit what everyone should accept as the perfectionist account does. And the person who believes he can intuit what is good or true will be mute—or worse—in the face of those with different intuitions. Defenders of Kant understand all this perfectly and can respond.
Who of my peer earthlings is going to judge my reasoning to calibrate the morality of my intentions? They differ in that the prodigal person acts on the principle of acquiring means with the sole intention of enjoyment, while the avaricious person acts on the principle of acquiring means with the sole intention of possessing them. There is a loose parallel with instrumental reasoning, which decides the best means to achieve ends laid down by inclination. Any principle that presupposes a previous desire for some object in the agent always presupposes that the agent is the sort of person who would be interested in that particular object. What if everyone did this act? He suggests that many of the defects that reviewers have found in his arguments are in fact only in their brains, which are too lazy to grasp his ethical system as a whole. Crucially, rational wills that are negatively free must be autonomous, or so Kant argues.
The highest good is the object of pure practical reason, so we cannot use the latter unless we believe that the former is achievable. On this freedom rests the very existence of reason, which has no dictatorial authority, but whose claim is never anything more than the agreement of free citizens, each of whom must be able to express his reservations, indeed even his veto, without holding back. Kant did not tell people what to do, but how to determine the right course of action. I have no problem with that, if he can justify his oblique criticism. Moral value is essentially established by the intention of the person acting.