David Hume and Immanuel Kant on Morality

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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. Hume writes that it is desire rather than reason that governs human behavior and that, “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions.” Kant’s conception of duty is based on the notion that all good ought to be done because they are intrinsically good. Duty for Kant is a basis of moral law. For example, one ought to preserve their own life or help feed the homeless because it is their societal duty to do so, not because they want to or that doing so makes them feel good. In fact, according to Kant, a person who hates helping others but does so anyways because they see it as their societal duty is a good moral agent. On the other hand, a person who enjoys helping others because it brings them joy would be considered selfish and without any moral content. How can this make sense? Hume would argue that it is the passion to help those that are less fortunate that motivates the individual rather than the actual act. In general, the action is produced by a passion to do something, spurred on by feelings of guilt or perhaps philanthropy. So, although Kant’s
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