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Immanual Kant Ethical Contribution Essay

Born in Konigsberg, East Prussia in 1724, Immanuel Kant began school at the early age of eight years. He studied at the Collegium Fridiricianum, a Latin school that focused on classicism. Later he attended the University of Konigsberg and his major studies were physics, mathematics and philosophy. After receiving his doctorate, Kant became a teacher at the University and focused on philosophy. He was well known for his unorthodox approaches to religion and religious text that many students admired.

However his radical teachings caught the eye of King Frederich William II, who barred him from any further writings. Kant obeyed the king until after the king’s death, Kant continued to write and publish his views on religion. He is famous for his deontic philosophical approach which believed actions were morally right or wrong, without the regard to consequences. Kant argued being moral was also being rational. Kant wrote the book Critique of Pure Reason in 1781 in which he investigated the limits of human knowledge and the ability to reason.

Kant argued that we act morally because that is what reason demands and he analyzed the nature of reason and what it means to be rational. In 1797 Kant furthered his writings in the Metaphysics of Ethics, where he writes that reason is the fundamental authority for morality. The European Graduate School dictates “Metaphysics describes a science concerned with this inquiry, a solution to unsolvable problems set by pure reason itself, namely the concepts of God, freedom and Immortality. ” Kant believed that our sense of duty, approved by reason and rationality, is considered moral.

Kant believed that consequences were not important, but the processes in which people think when they make their choices. Kant argued only one thing was inherently good, and that was good will. Good will is also doing the right thing, doing one’s duty and respecting moral law. (LaFave 2006) This good will is found only in humans, not material, gives us human’s dignity and is our power of rational moral choice. (Garrett 2006) According to Kant, when we respect moral law we are doing something because it makes us feel good and we are doing it out of duty, not inclinations.

Kant argues we know what the moral law is by using Categorical Imperative. The Categorical Imperative states “Act only on those maxims (or rules of action) that you could, at the same time, will to be universal law. ” (Garrett 2006) Three tests must pass to for an act to be considered moral, 1) it must be amenable to being made consistently universal, 2) it must respect rational beings as ends in themselves; and 3) it must stem from and respect the autonomy of rational beings. (DeGeorge p. 64) Immanuel Kant unknowingly created what is now called Kantian philosophy with his works and studies.

Not only did he have a major impact on literature and the fine arts, his biggest contribution was to modern philosophy. Kant died in 1804. Works Cited DeGeorge, Richard. Business Ethics. 7th Ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2010. Print. Garret, Jan. “Kant’s Duty Ethics. ” Wku. edu. Western Kentucky University, 2 October 2006. Web. 12 June 2012. “Immanuel Kant – Biography. ” Eds. edu, European Graduate School, n. d. Web. 12 June 2012. LaFave, Sandra, “Kant’s Ethics. ” Instruct. westvalley. edu. West Valley College, 16 August 2006. Web. 12 June 2012.


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