David Hume and Immanuel Kant on Morality When discussing the morality of ethics there are many different schools of thought by which we can attempt to justify why we think or do things the way we do; why we value the things we value; and what makes our actions right or wrong. In this essay I will address the flaws in the assumptions of Immanuel Kant’s theories on morality by reason, using David Hume’s beliefs on morality by feelings and material from the Subjectivist school of thought. The Kantian view on morality places extreme emphasis on reason rather than what we desire as humans. In other words, people act in accordance to what is their duty, not by how they feel or what they personally believe to be right. This is in direct violation with David Hume’s stance on morality.
We promote goodness and happiness using nature and experience, we can work out thus, that murder, for example, is wrong because committing murder does not cause happiness. Ergo, Ethical Naturalism produces universal laws which can be used as a benchmark to measure our own and other people’s moral conduct. Meta-ethics on the other hand believes that no ethical language is universal and objective. Non-naturalists and non-cognitivists such as Cambridge philosopher G. E. Moore believe that ethical language is subjective, as by claiming that they are objective is committing the ‘naturalistic fallacy’. This states that it is a mistake to define ‘good’ in terms of things that exist (natural properties) that we already
Explain what is meant by moral absolutism Moral absolutism is the belief that certain actions are right or wrong, no matter what the situation. Moral absolutists might, for example, judge slavery, war, dictatorship, the death penalty, or childhood abuse to be absolutely and inarguably immoral regardless of the beliefs and goals of a culture that engages in these practices. They believe that actions are moral regardless of circumstance. Lying, for instance, would always be immoral, even if done to promote some other good (e.g. saving a life).
The two dominant theories of morality are relativism and absolutism. The former is the position which states that moral propositions do not reflect objective or universal moral truths but instead make claims relative to social, cultural, historical or circumstantial conditions. The latter is the ethical belief that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged. The theory claims that certain actions are right or wrong regardless of the context of the act. Therefore, actions are inherently moral or immoral, regardless of the beliefs and goals of the individual, society or culture that engages in the action.
Critique of Kant’s Indiscriminant Use of the “Categorical Imperative” In terms of the discussion of morals, it all comes down to whether one believes the “good” in a morally good action lies in the cause or the effect of the action. For philosopher Immanuel Kant, the answer lies in the cause, or the initial motive of the action, rather than the consequences that arise from it. However, one cannot rely on his system of morals, as the more they get grounded into real life situations, the harder it is to justify certain actions. If one were to accept a higher and definite system of moral law that applies to any and all rational beings, it cannot be morally permissible for people to only consider the beginning motives of an action with blatant disregard for the potentially horrifying consequences that may follow. In “Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals” by Immanuel Kant, a general framework is laid out for this idea that the discussion of metaphysics in philosophy has been led astray; that even the common man has a better understanding than most philosophers.
Comparison between deontological and utilitarian ethics Deontological ethics Deontology is a normative theory attributed to Immanuel Kant, which focuses on the concept of the duty. It is concerned on fulfilling what is believed to be a moral duty without considering its impact to other people. It takes the stand that the duty defines the right actions regardless of the consequences. The hold of deontological ethics is that doing right is what conform the moral laws. According to Kant, right actions are not done by following inclinations, impulses or obeying the principle of greatest happiness but are done simply and purely from the sense of duty.
Ethical egoism contrasts with ethical altruism, which holds that moral agents have an obligation to help others. Egoism and altruism both contrast with ethical utilitarianism, which holds that a moral agent should treat one's self with no higher regard than one has for others as egoism does, by elevating self-interests and the self to a status not granted to others, but that one also should not as altruism does sacrifice one's own interests to help others' interests, so long as one's own interests (i.e. one's own desires or well-being) are substantially equivalent to the others' interests and well-being. Egoism, utilitarianism, and altruism are all forms of consequentialism, but egoism and altruism contrast with utilitarianism, in that egoism and altruism are both agent-focused forms of consequentialism (i.e. subject-focused or subjective), but utilitarianism is called agent-neutral (i.e.
In general, on a popular argument for ethical relativism would be the untenability of objectivism. It is a persuasive justification for moral relativism because it is the best alternative following the failure of objectivism. The fact that moral objectivists themselves are uncertain, incongruent and unsettled on a standard moral system is the primary catalyst encouraging moral skepticism (IEP, Argument for Moral Relativism). Cultural relativism outlines that “an action is morally right, relative to a culture, just because it is right according to the moral code which is generally accepted in that culture.” Conversely, if “an action is morally wrong, relative to a culture, just because it is wrong according to the moral code which is generally accepted in that culture.” (Luco, Week 3 Notes, p.9) Cultural Relativism is simply a combination of the following three theses: 1. The only criterion of moral truth or falsehood is the moral code of a cultural group.
Ethical relativism is supported due to the narrowing view of ethnocentrism, which is causing great “prejudice tantamount to racism and sexism” (Pojman, 25). Society is moving away from their ethnocentric view of the world, which allows for a more diverse cultural of right and wrong. Moral positions are based on what their society sees as ideal norms. The first of two theses is cultural relativism, “what is considered morally right and wrong varies from society to society”(Pojman, 26), meaning that there is no universal morals, which are accepted by all societies. In some cultures it might be morally acceptable to value slavery, genocide, or female circumcision.
According to this theory, what is morally good for one person or culture might be morally bad for another, and vice versa: there are no moral absolutes. There is also an individual form of moral relativism. Thus, this is where morality varies between individuals, it is called subjectivism. Subjectivism, on the other hand, involves our beliefs or perceptions, in figuring out what is good and what is bad. Narveson explains subjectivity through morals, which he believes to be “subjective.” Narveson believes that “they are merely a “matter of opinion,” there being no such thing as moral knowledge, nothing about can be really correct or incorrect” (Narveson, MM, p. 3).Thus, whether peanut butter tastes good, for example, varies from person to person; for some people this is true, for others it is false.