Kant and Moral Theory
Abortion has been one of the most highly debated moral issues our society has faced in the last century. Discussing this issue from the perspective of Immanuel Kant’s moral theory allows us to move away from the provocative pro-choice and pro-life point of views and critically assess the topic rationally and logically without the argumentative emotions so often involved with this matter. Application of Kant’s moral theory will allow us to understand whether or not abortion is morally allowable at a more fundamental level.
Immanuel Kant was a famous philosopher who had a strong impact on philosophy, especially in the field of ethics. He presumed that moral laws were acquired from reason or logic, so in effect, immoral actions are unreasonable and/or irrational. Kant’s idea of the categorical imperative states to ‘act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should become a universal law’ (Kant, I.). Often this has been interpreted to mean that the ethical judgments we make and the actions we take must be similar across all people, regardless of the individual situations.
When we apply this moral theory to the topic of abortion, we can see why many individuals believe Immanuel Kant would have said that abortion is irrational and therefore immoral. If we follow this logic all the way till its end, we must conclude that abortion could never be a moral decision because if it is right for one then it must be right for all, correct? And of course abortion for everyone who becomes pregnant cannot be the correct, or rational, decision else we would exterminate ourselves as a species in a very short amount of time. Unless the goal of pregnant women everywhere is to annihilate the entire human race, it seems obvious that universal law for pro-choice cannot rationally exist…or can it?