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Kant vs. Hume on Moral Reasoning - Essay Example

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Kant vs. Hume on Moral Reasoning

In Hume’s opinion, what individuals strongly feel about as being good, right and moral is what actually defines what is right and what is wrong, as opposed to them feeling obliged to do something right without their will just because it is thought to be the right thing. If we analyze both these arguments in isolation, they are both valid to an extent. However, from the perspective of morality, Kant’s categorical imperatives formulate a stronger argument than Hume’s teachings. Kant and Hume – Basis of the Conflict: Starting from the basics, Kant’s critique of Hume’s theories has led him to label them as not really moral theories on the grounds that they do not give an individual a sense of direction as to what he actually is supposed (“ought”) to do under a particular situation. If we go a little deeper and start by understanding what a moral theory is supposed to do then we can either justify or nullify Kant’s criticism. Morality, in a very descriptive context refers to a set of rules put forward either by a society, religion or conferred upon an individual upon himself by himself. However, on the normative side, morality is a set of rules that is agreed upon by all individuals unanimously (Gert, 2011)1. Under this definition, we can vividly see that Kant’s criticism is in perfect synchronization with his arguments against Hume’s teachings since the normative definition of morality, is more or less a variant of Kant’s categorical imperatives. If on the other hand, Kant would have based his argument on some grounds other than morality, then it might have been easier to refute his ideology. Kant stresses that human beings are given the status of God’s most supreme creations for their ability to reason. It is this ability to reason which differentiates human beings from animals and other creations of God. A man tries to come to a conclusion after putting some thought into the process and weighing some pros and cons, that is the point of differentiation between a man and the rest of God’s creation. It is this fundamental belief of Kant, on which his theories are based. The point of commonality in his theories is that none of them preach the principle of intuition of basing actions of mere feelings as Hume suggests. Rather all of Kant’s teachings stem from a need of moral duty that we have towards our fellow human beings and exactly how we can do justice to them through the proper procedure of reasoning to come down to our conclusions (Kant & Weigelt, 2007)2. The Concept of “Priori”: The guiding principle of Kant’s theories, upon which he rejected Hume’s theories, was of priori. Priori refers to a concept which basically talks about deductive reasoning. It states that an effect is always preceded by a cause. This is what Kant believed in but was thrown into confusion by Hume’s criticism of the concept. When Hume tried to explain that there exists a possibility of a posteriori, which was the opposite of priori and in effect inductive reasoning. Hume’s argument was that priori requires analytical judgment, which was also agreed upon by Kant, however, Hume believed that certain cause and effect relationships cannot be revealed through synthetic reasoning rather they require analytical reasoning. This meant that no matter how hard a person may try to apply synthetic reasoni ...Show more


Subject Name Date “Kant vs. Hume on Moral Reasoning” Introduction: The crux of the debate between Kant’s and Hume’s teachings is that there exists a difference of opinion between the two regarding the moral dimensions of their theories…
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Kant vs. Hume on Moral Reasoning essay example
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