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Kant’s Moral Rationality Essay

In Kant’s book, The Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, he believes that the “good will” is only good in itself and that reason is what produces the “goodness” of the “good will.” According to Kant, to act out of a “good will” means to act out of “duty,” or doing something because you find it necessary to do. Also, “good will” is will that is in accordance with reason. He believes everyone has a moral obligation or duty to do actions and he backs his theory up by discussing his idea of the “moral law.”

The “moral law”, according to Kant, is when one is to act in accordance with the demands of practical reason, or acting done solely out of respect of duty. He says that moral laws will make you will in a certain way and is not subject to something further. Moral laws apply to all rational being in all places at all times. Overall, he believes that morality is on a basis of a priori, or preceding experience.

This type of moral law commands us to be truthful from respect for the law and to do the right thing. Morality is about categorical commands that we ought to follow simply because it is the right thing to do. By categorical commands, or categorical imperative, it is supposed to provide us with a way to make moral judgments, which means it is a law. It is a way of coming up with the idea how any action can be rational. He means since all externals are taken from morality, moral commands must be categorical.

In his book, Kant explains that he makes five things perfect clear: 1. All moral concepts have their origin entirely a priori in reason. 2. Moral concepts can’t be formed by abstraction from any empirical knowledge or, therefore, from anything contingent. 3. This purity or non-empiricalness of origin is what gives them the dignity of serving as supreme practical principles. 4. Any addition of something empirical takes away just that much of their influence and of the unqualified worth of actions performed in accordance with them. 5. Not only is it necessary in developing a moral theory but also important in our practical lives that we derive the concepts and laws of morals from pure reason and present them pure and unmixed, determining the scope of this entire practical but pure rational knowledge. (Kant 17)

Kant goes on to discuss a relationship between the moral law and reason. He says that moral philosophy cannot be merely an empirical inquiry, but that is must be a metaphysical inquiry, and that it must be based on pure practical reason. Pure practical reason is the reason that drives actions without any sensible incentives. Kant also states that Morality is based neither on utility or nature, but on human reason. And this human reason tells us what we ought to do and when we obey this human reason, then we can say we are truly free.

Finally, Kant discusses why he thinks that the moral is the rational. He believes that acting dutifully is the same as doing something because rationality tells you to do it. In section three, he discusses how moral principles come from yourself, or your rationality. And how one should treat the idea of will of every rational being as a universal law. Thus, rationality requires us to be moral.


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