Ethics(or moral philosophy) can be defined as something that involves systematizing,defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior. Philosopherstoday usually divide ethical theories into three general subject areas:metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Metaethics, investigateswhere our ethical principles come from, and what they mean. When I think ofethical behavior or concepts of right or wrong, one of my favorite quotes fromthe song Go with the Flow comes tomind.
“I want something good to die for to make it beautiful to live.” Ibelieve this to mean that a life is only worth living, if something in thatlife is worth dying for. If you don’t care about anything deeply enough to giveyour life for it, then there’s not much meaning to the life you’ve got. Whilethis is a statement worthy of philosophy, I consider it a representation of ethicalcode and morality as well.
Kant would’ve probably agreed with this notion basedoff of his Categorical Imperative. “Act only on that maxim through which youcan at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” In this paperI will explain the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and contrast it to utilitarianphilosophy.
Firstly,to expound on the philosophy of Kant, I have to explain how his philosophy cameabout. Immanuel Kant, born April 22, 1724, in Prussia, was essential to what werefer to as modern philosophy. At age 46, Kant was already a creditedphilosopher and scholar in his own right, and credits David Hume for “awakeninghim from dogmatic slumber.” 1 David Hume was a Scottish philosopher who waswell known for his skepticism of religion and metaphysics. David Hume, iswidely considered to be one of the greatest Philosophers. But his philosophy amongstthe philosophical community is thought to be extremely idiotic. Although, hisfollowers believe it is factual, it can also be argued that it is not.
DavidHume basically states that everything that you think is possible is alsoimpossible. Hume believed anything that science has proven, can also bedisproven; because of this nothing is true. Hume granted that the externalworld exists and that one can rationally understand it.
Though a skeptic, in aslight sense, because he was first to show the “problem of induction.” (I.E.
Any conclusion which cannot be logically deduced and which therefore requiresinductive reasoning–making one or more ultimately non-provable assumptionsabout uniformity in the natural world–cannot be regarded as truth-preserving.Incidentally much of our knowledge consists in inductive conclusions. However,for Hume, this did not require outright skepticism with regard to knowledge. InKant’s journey to explain how humanity fused knowledge and reasoned knowledge,he did not publish any work in philosophy for 11 years. Kant argues that thehuman mind creates the structure of human experience, that reason is the sourceof morality, that aesthetics arises from a faculty of disinterested judgment,that space and time are forms of human sensibility, and that the world as it is”in-itself” is independent of humanity’s concepts of it. Kant’sphilosophy is based on a belief that reason is the final authority formorality. Actions of any sort, he believed, must be undertaken from a sense ofduty dictated by reason, and no action performed for expediency or solely inobedience to law or custom can be regarded as moral.
A moral act is an act donefor the “right” reasons. Kant would argue that to make a promise forthe wrong reason is not moral – you might as well not make the promise. Youmust have a duty code inside of you or it will not come through in your actionsotherwise. Our reasoning ability will always allow us to know what our duty is.Kant described two types of common commands given by reason: the hypotheticalimperative, which dictates a given course of action to reach a specific end;and the categorical imperative, which dictates a course of action that must befollowed because of its rightness and necessity. The categorical imperative isthe basis of morality and was stated by Kant in these words: “Act as ifthe maxim of your action were to become through your will and general naturallaw.
” Therefore, before proceeding to act, you must decide what rule youwould be following if you were to act, whether you are willing for that rule tobe followed by everyone everywhere. If you are willing to universalize the act,it must be moral; if you are not, then the act is morally impermissible.