1) Give an account of Kant’s ethical theory (25 marks)
Immanuel Kant, a strong believer in an objective right and wrong based on reason, developed a moral theory in order to show and illustrate his beliefs concerning the universal character of moral laws and the objectivity of moral judgement. The main goal of Kant’s thinking is to encourage people to base morality on reason as opposed to feelings, inclinations, consequences and religion. Kant’s theory of ethics is deontological meaning that the moral act itself is what has moral value rather than the consequences or events which are likely to take place after the action has been taken.
Throughout his theory Kant links ...view middle of the document...
According to Kant, hypothetical imperatives, which are actions that achieves some goal or end, are immoral commands to the will due to the fact that they depend on results and aims at personal well-being. On the other hand, categorical imperatives which are actions without reference to other means and ends are moral. There are three basic forms of categorical imperatives which are illustrated in Kant’s ethical theory. The first one being, ‘act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law’. This is known as the formula of the law of nature and it asks the decision maker to universalise his/her maxims. The next step to fulfilling Kant’s theory is to ‘Act as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of any other, never solely as a means but always an end’. Kant names this step as the formula of end in itself, and he means that we should not exploit others in order to reach an end, which will benefit us. From this the action maker is asked to discover whether the decision is a means to a will or a way. Finally one is to ‘Act as if a legislating member in the universal Kingdom of Ends’ meaning that before the action takes place he/she must act as if every other person was an end.
An example of using Kant’s theory in order to discover whether or not the action is moral is if somebody was pushing in front of a queue. The maxim of the decision maker would look somewhat like this, ‘it’s acceptable to push in front of the queue if I’m hungry’. Kant would ask the person to universalise the maxim and find out what would happen if everyone did this. The answer would be that if everyone skipped the queue because they were hungry, the idea of having a queue would be irrelevant as it would not work. There would no longer be such thing as a queue. This maxim would then been seen as a means to a way as the concept of having a queue would be abolished. As a result, the action in which the person thought about committing to would be immoral.
2) ‘Kant’s’ theory has no serious weaknesses’ – Discuss
Debating whether or not Kant’s theory is strong can be a very controversial topic. This is due to the fact that the theory itself has many flaws and much strength, almost too many to weigh up. Some say that Kant’s theory is strong as the moral value of an action comes from the action of itself, whereas others argue that Kant’s system cannot work or function properly due to the fact that everyone has different perceptions on the final purpose and the end of...