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Kant - Three Propositions from Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals - Essay Example

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Kant - Three Propositions from Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

In his second proposition, Kant iterates that the moral worth of an action derives from its maxim and not from its consequences. In further deliverance of this notion, Kant determines that a prescribed action done from duty is determined in its moral worth only by virtue of the principle, or maxim, in “accordance with which it is decided upon”. This implies that the moral worth of the will to do an action lies NOT in its motive or the desired effect from that action, but in the actual principle of the will. In Kant’s view, a will is genuine and morally sound if it is derived from duty alone instead of any ancillary motive where duty simply plays a complementary role instead of being the motivating factor in its entirety. Thus, it must necessarily follow that the person taking the action has recognized an a priori goodwill principle that they seek to fulfill by taking that action; thus, the action has been brought about from duty instead of being committed for a purpose beyond that which imposed by the goodwill, rendering it of sound moral worth. Kant recognizes a third proposition in a similar way which at first seems like in stark contrast to his second proposition but in essence, follows through with the same elements of rationality by inciting a “respect for law” which imposes a duty to respect the moral law....
Such morality requires a conception of reason, which in normal daily lives goes well beyond our basic desires. In these arguments, Kant sets out to establish the foundational principle of a set of morals. What he is trying to show is that this foundational moral principle draws from a rational will in all of us, and it is this rational will that makes us possess the autonomy to act morally. This autonomy is essentially derived from duty and has the capability of denouncing all inclinations (second proposition) in order to pursue actions that are done strictly in respect of moral law (third proposition). As he rounds up his arguments in this work, he puts it clearly that there are universal moral laws, and any action that is agreeable should not only obey a moral law, but should be done to ensure morality is upheld (Kant 4:400). Any action that is not done for the sake of a moral law even if it conforms to a moral law is not logically necessary. Thus, it is prudent to observe and link the second and third propositions in pursuit of the universal law of morals. Kant seems to maintain that the second proposition is directly linked with the third proposition. However, the notion of respect seems to suggest otherwise as it exists in the third and not in the second proposition. What, then, is respect? Respect is a notion unhinged to the personal faculty of desire and is therefore not an inclination. In plain English, thus, respect is an attitude which impels goodwill actions. An action done by reason of inclination, as opposed to one by reason of respect, would seek a desired effect, and is NOT an action from duty, but an action for a purpose. This brings us to a consideration of the ...Show more

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Immanuel Kant in his work Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals seeks to develop a philosophy of morals contingent on rationality and pure reason…
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Kant - Three Propositions from Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals essay example
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