Immanuel Kant puts forward an argument from deontological ethics and therefore is an ethical theory considered solely on duty and obligations, where one has an unchanging moral obligation to abide by a set of defined principles. Thus the ends of any action do not justify the means, i.e. if someone were to do their moral duties, then it would not matter if it had negative consequences. Thus, rules come above all else according to Kant. Kant argues that only one fact is undisputable, and that simply is that there is a moral law in existence, which then leads to the existence of God.
Immanuel Kant was a deontologist who believed that reason was the final authority for morality, not the consequences of one’s actions as believed by the utilitarians. In other words, all actions would be undertaken with a sense of duty that has been dictated by reason. Kant recognized two types of imperatives by which we act: the Hypothetical Imperative, which stipulates an instrumental action to a goal/result/end; and the Categorical Imperative, which stipulates that the actions we take are irrespective of one’s desires/goals/ends but are bound by duty. The ‘Inquiring Murderer’ is one example of how Kant shows that we should use the Categorical Imperative (CI) to obtain an answer according to his version of morality. We must lie to be a moral person, sending our friend to their impending death.
The only good thing is a good will that does what is logically the right thing to do. Natural Law Natural Law is often described as deontological because, in practice, it leads to a set of rules that people have a duty to follow. These rules are absolutist, because they know of no exception. For example, using contraception to prevent conception is absolutely wrong, regardless of consequences such as the spread of AIDS, unwanted pregnancies etc. However, Aquinas' Natural Law Theory says we should try to fulfil our God-given purpose.
His belief of going against emotion, goes against moral relativism, as moral relativism is when a morally good act is entirely dependent on the circumstances where said act takes place, instead believing in the necessity of a perfectly universal moral law. Human reasoning was a significant area of ethical study for Kant. Kant’s views were in response to the empiricists and rationalists, with the rationalists beliefs being closer to his than the empiricists. (The rationalists attempted to prove that we can understand the world purely be using our reasoning, while empiricists argued that all of our knowledge comes from experience.) Kant believed that the only way we gain knowledge of the world is through our senses, and that us humans will never experience the true reality of the world as we experience it through our own minds, of which different categories of thought have been built into, which led him to believe that all scientific knowledge discovered, is only facts about our own experiences and perceptions.
It is unrealistic for Kant to expect all human beings to follow the universal law, as not everyone will use their rationality to do their duty. Human beings don’t all know what is morally right or wrong. Therefore it is unrealistic for Kant to expect all humans to be intrinsically good. Kant argues that humans have moral faculty meaning we are aware of what is right or wrong based on our reason. However this is an unrealistic expectation for Kant to think.
“Compare and Contrast intuitionism and Emotivism” Both Intuitionism and Emotivism are meta-ethical concepts to explain the terms “good” and “bad” without being caught in the naturalistic fallacy described by GE Moore. Moore’s theory states that good cannot be categorised in any physical manner as theories – but instead “good” can not be defined in terms of anything but itself, and following this through to a moral theory we can conclude “that neither science nor religion can establish the basic principles of morality.” Intuitionism holds that there are objective moral truths, but rather than reasoning or deducing these truths, they are self evident to the “mature” mind. Moore contends that just as we know there is a world out there, we know objective moral truths – they are just common sense or intuition. These truths are universal and beyond human experience and reasoning, and from them we gain our sense of what is “good” and what is “bad”. Moore would say we can see these self evident truths when, in an argument, we are reduced to “it’s just wrong,” they require no further explanation, proof or justification.
Meta ethics tries to make sense of the terms and concepts used in ethical theories such as Utilitarianism and Natural Law. Some people believe that ethical language is extremely meaningful as they argue it is essential to be able to define terms such as “good” and “bad” before we can even begin to discuss ethical theories. However others disagree with this and argue that moral statements are subjective so are meaningless, as they cannot be described as either true or false. Those who hold cognitive theories about ethical language would argue that ethical statements are not meaningless as they are about facts, and can therefore be proved true or false. Ethical Naturalism is a cognitive theory of meta ethics which holds the belief that
There cannot be a wrong unless there is something that is right to compare it to. In the Law of Human Nature, C.S Lewis sets forth the foundational ideas regarding right and wrong. The most basic yet most important concept is that without the knowledge of what is right; humans cannot make the claim that something is wrong. By pointing out that one’s idea is not correct one is inadvertently admitting that he believes in a standard of right and wrong. C.S Lewis points out that all humans have a tendency to quarrel.
NML is seen as objectively ideal, it is something that everyone should strive for as it is an objective truth which ties in with Moral Realism, this means there are objective truths, things that we should do/should not do because they are definitely right or wrong. This then ties in with a priori ethics, which means our ethical knowledge has nothing to do with our experience or influences, it is just knowable in the universe, we just know it, this is what NML is seen as, we do not learn it, we just know it. Aquinas was very influenced by Aristotle especially his view that everything has a purpose and these purposes can be understood through looking at the natural world and through the bible which reveals the purpose for which God created man. St Paul said the moral law of God is evident from the nature of man and the world, ‘Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature, namely, his external power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made’, Aquinas said God gave man reason to accomplish the purposes NML whether we believe in him or not. All humans can understand and follow NML but only the believers in God know that if they do, it will be beneficial for them beyond the
Consequential is a type of ethical theory; it’s built upon moral views of acts, rules, etc. purely due to the consideration of their consequences, where the norm of consideration is worked as the norm of non-moral goodness. Happiness is a part of acquiring what could be an unsatisfying truth that we do not have a solid handle of our control or impact in our world; giving into the greatest good, as well as, ignoring what can bring negativity. It is important to make the best out of life as possible that represent positive and negative, and take the rest as life wants to give it. The theory of “good” and bad is really not a matter of concern; we have our own particular views, so what can be bad may actually be good.