Explain Kant’s Theory of Duty

912 Words4 Pages
Duty is something that one is expected or required to do by moral obligation. Kant’s theory of ethics is formed in his book critique of practical reason and his approach is deontological. This means the right or wrongness of the action is the action itself and not its consequences. We should do the right thing because it’s right not because it fulfils our desires or is based on our feelings and from this belief stems his ideas of good will, categorical imperatives and more importantly duty. The idea of good will for Kant is the starting point for morality. Only the will is within our control and so only the will can be unconditionally good and can exercise pure practical reason. This will mean total effort involved in making a conscious moral choice. In his writings critique of practical reason he states ‘it is impossible to conceive of anything at all in the world except a good will’. Kant wanted to put good will at the very centre of ethics in which he formed the equation GOOD WILL + DUTY = A MORAL ACTION. Good will is the motive that produces our determination to be good people and our practical reason helps us get there ‘good will, then, like a jewel, will shine by its own light, a thing which has its whole value in itself’. Kant’s moral theory looks at evidence and tells you what ought to be done. Reason is universal. However to act morally then we must be capable of exercising freedom or the autonomy of the will .The opposite of this is what Kant did not believe in and this is heteronomy and that is something is right because its satisfies some desire, emotion, goal or obligation. After excising our freedom and good will then duty is left to follow, as duty is what makes the good will good. It is important that duty can be done for its own sake , our motives need to be pure. To act morally is to do one's duty, and one's duty is to obey the moral law. Kant
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