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    Kant's Ethics: Introduction, Overview, The Categorical Imperative

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    I provide an introduction and overview to Kantian Ethics; I outline and discuss Kant's first argument for the Categorical Imperative via the concept of the Good Will.

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    https://brainmass.com/philosophy/ethics-morals/kants-ethics-introduction-overview-the-categorical-imperative-51059

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    INTRODUCTION TO KANT'S MORAL THEORY

    1. All forms of Utilitarianism are teleological or consequentalist moral theories.

    • The rightness of an action resides in the consequences achieved by the action.

    2. If a theory of right action is NOT consequentialist then it is deontological.

    • A deontological theory says that the moral value of an action does not only derive from the non-moral good brought about.

    Some acts are wrong in themselves, independently of the consequences brought about.

    EXAMPLE: It's wrong to kill an innocent person no matter how good the expected consequences are.

    NOTE: A deontological theory NEED NOT say that consequences are always irrelevant

    KANT'S MORAL THEORY: OVERVIEW

    • Kant's moral theory is quite a radical deontological theory.

    Kant claims that the consequences of an action are entirely IRRELEVANT to the moral value of the action.

    Roughly, moral rightness in behaviour is a matter of acting CONSISTENTLY and RATIONALLY.

    COMPARE:

    "What's good for the goose is good for the gander"!
    If I drink your beer then I can't complain when you drink mine (Rachels 2003, p. 128)

    Acting RATIONALLY entails acting on a RATIONAL MOTIVE.

    Rough Kantian criterion for right action

    An act is right if and only if it is done according to a rational principle.

    Kant's fundamental principle of morality is called the

    THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE

    ARGUMENT 1: THE GOOD WILL

    • Kant wants to discover the supreme moral principle underlying all moral judgements about obligations and duties.

    He wants to find a principle that will tell us what our duties are, and explain why they are our duties.

    • The first route he takes to this principle is through an analysis of the morally good person.
    - this argument is supposed to be based in our 'ordinary moral awareness'.

    [My analysis here draws extensively on that given by Sullivan 1994, ...

    Solution Summary

    The expert provides an introduction, overview and the categorical imperative for Kant's Ethics.

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