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Kant and Hume on Morality - Essay Example

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Kant and Hume on Morality

Later on these views are critically analysed to establish which point of view is better. Kant Kant argues for an a priori basis for morality in his work. The central concept is the “categorical imperative”. The author sees morality springing from nothing other than pure reason. This contradicts Hume directly who held that reason could never be ground to justify morality. However, Kant states that people’s personhood and dignity should always be respected. People can be treated as both a means and an end simultaneously but not merely as means. Lying has been used as an example by Kant to justify his notion. He considers lying to be immoral under any circumstances and for any purpose at all. Actions must be universal according to Kant. Moreover, morality cannot be treated as an issue of mere preference or taste. Kant has utilised maxims to establish the a priori basis for morality. Volition is wanted that is a rule that is followed by an intentional act. He argues that any moral actions must fall into one of the five categories that constitute the categorical imperative. ...
thing: “can be regarded as good without qualification, except a good will.” 1 Good will is seen as the beacon that guides a person to doing the right thing. In case that a person fails to do a good thing, the good will has not failed. Instead the ability to carry out the good will has failed. Following the establishment of good will, Kant moves to establish moral obligations and duty. He delineates that many acts are done out of personal consideration rather than for the sake of morality. A shopkeeper who uses honest prices is doing so because he wishes to be respected by his customers and not merely for the sake of morality alone. Kant believes that such a person “deserves praise and encouragement, but not esteem.” 2 People who commit the greatest moral acts are the ones who commit such actions without regard for reward. Kant affirms that these are the only people who are actually acting morally. Durkheim’s altruistic suicide is seen by Kant as an esteemed action because the man giving up his life gains nothing out of it. As per Kant: “Duty is the necessity to act out of reverence for the (moral) law.” 3 Following the moral law in intrinsic sense of right and wrong is a person’s greatest obligation. Hence, morality is a priori as per Kant. He further proposes four situations that demand decision making to with respect to duty. These are: actions contrary to duty for example stealing; dutiful actions carried out in fear of reprisal or penalties for example paying taxes, not violating traffic signs; dutiful actions that are carried out because of the agent’s prior inclination to them generally because such actions are pleasurable for example any labour of love; dutiful actions that contradict personal inclination for example not resorting to suicide ...Show more

Summary

Kant and Hume on Morality Kant and Hume are both considered great philosophers. However, their points of view differ on most things. Morality is one such issue too. Kant subscribes to reason as the prime cause behind morality while Hume insists on emotion being the reason behind morality…
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