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    Major Concepts in Kant's ethics

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    Good and right are based on reason.

    Reason does not get happiness, reason it is only way for survival, it is functional instinct.

    Good Will-unqualifiably good.

    How reason reates to ethics?

    What does it mean? Please explain it for me using some examples from our life.
    Thank you.

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    Solution Preview

    There have of course been long debates regarding what the basis of ethics could/should be. Historically in the West morality was based on religion. With the Enlightenment, however, thinkers began searching in earnest for a non-religious foundation for morality. Some thinkers, like David Hume, thought that ethics must be based on desire/feeling. For Kant, ethics must be based on reason. One reason for favoring a rational basis for ethics is that it makes ethics objective and universal. Everyone accepts the demand of being rational. So if one is faced with a particular ethical dilemma where being rational requires that one act in a certain way, then if reason is the basis for morality, it follows that the rational thing to do is also the ethically correct thing to do. And since what it means to be rational is objective, ethics is also objective. (See the example below.)

    You say that reason is only a means for survival, a "functional instinct." This is certainly not how Kant thought of reason. Kant thought of reason as the principle or standard to which a human mind must conform if it is to operate properly. That is, he thought of rationality as being "normative" for the human mind. Indeed, Kant belongs in the tradition of philosophers who thought that reason is the hallmark of human minds—it is what makes human minds distinctively human, what sets us apart from mere animals. As human beings we are essentially rational beings. So as human beings, in a very strong sense we should always be rational in the ways that we think and act.

    Now, you are right that acting rationally will not always ...

    Solution Summary

    Provides some background information and clarifies Kant's ethical philosophy, including: the relationship between reason and ethics, the relation between reason and happiness, the relation between the good and the right, and Kant's notion of the good will as unqualifiedly good. Provides an example at the end to make everything concrete.