Moral Ethics : Kant Vs Korsgard Ualbany/College Essay

1692 words - 7 pages

David Paper on Kant and Korsgaard
Immnauel Kant was among one of the greatest philosophers of our time; during his relatively short lifespan he had managed to develop various theories and philosophies about many topics ranging from political philosophical theories to what we are going to cover in this paper; morality. Kant’s moral philosophy revolved around two main theories or supreme principles; the universal law formula and the formula of humanity, both cover distinct aspects of morality of which Kant believes is the basis for all human ethics. Despite his theory’s prominence they of course, did not go unchallenged as other philosophers challenged the philosophical theories he put forward. One such challenge came from Christine Korsgaard who opposed Kant’s universal law formula with a logically clever scenario and argument which certainly makes you have second thoughts on Kant’s stance on morality; specifically, his stance on lying.
Before we undertake the examination of Korsgaard’s counter argument we must first explore Kant’s views and pinpoint what his two main principles mean. Kant’s first principle the universal law formula “act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law” (GMM Kant). Kant believed that laws of nature (universal laws) could not be changed and thus must be followed. Kant used this as a basis for morality, that if we as rational people; acted in a way that our actions would be applied to ourselves and to all others in the universe then we would be in the moral right. This definition is quite simplified; thus, I will explain it in a little more detail. Kant believed that when someone acts, they act on a maxim. Maxims to Kant are our personal principles that guide or decisions and intentions e.g I will only love women! Or I shall never tell a lie. Due to Kant believing that our maxims, if we act upon them, will be applied to ourselves and the universe, he devised a test for working out whether a maxim we hold is right or wrong. The test is called the categorical imperative; in this context imperative is just a moral command, hence according to Kant, if I act on a maxim that it is impossible for everyone else in the universe to follow then it is universally morally wrong, and I would thus I would be acting immorally if I were to act in such a way. To Kant it is always possible for people to act morally in any situation and that the rightness or wrongness of an action does not depend on the consequences that results from it but whether that action fulfil our duty. Duty can be separated into two separate types according to Kant: perfect duty and imperfect duty; perfect duties are basically that person’s categorical imperative that are absolute, as we should never perform certain types of actions that violate perfect duties ( also called duties of justice) while imperfect duties (also called duties of virtue) are those that require that we sometimes perf...


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