Immanuel Kant’s ethical theory can be categorized as a combination of objectivistic and consequentialist. Kant’s categorical imperative is rigid in its nature in that once a universal law is proposed, the answer is determined by either a yes or no. In the example given in the powerpoint, it can be summarized as ‘If everyone in the world lied, can trust be ensured?’ The answer to this is obviously no. This relates to consequentialist ideas because it proposes an idea to the world and determines whether the outcome of this idea is a desirable or undesirable world to live in. It can be argued that Kant’s theory relies on objectivism due to the notion that what is right and wrong is universal to the human mind. To go back to the powerpoint example it is implied that lying is wrong. If this existed in a culture where lying was the norm then perhaps the answer would be different or Kant’s categorical imperative couldn’t even be utilized.
Kant’s rationalism and his procedure of categorical imperative succeed in making it simple to determine what is morally right. Once a law is proposed, the answer depends on whether or not the outcome is rational to the human being. It structures the decision on what is morally right into a ‘black and white’ or ‘yes or no’ type of decision. In the powerpoint example, once the question of ‘If everyone lied, can there be trust in the world?’ leads to an easy answer of yes or no. A weakness of Kant’s categorical imperative and rationalism is that it relies and is based off the idea that morals are universal and forever to humans. Not all cultures hold the same beliefs so if the same question was proposed to two different cultures the answers may differentiate.
To demonstrate Kant’s ideas of rationalism, the subject of tipping service workers can be used. A group of 3 friends go to a restaurant in America and after ordering their food and receiving their check they pay only for the price of the food and tip zero dollars. One of the members asks if it is morally wrong to not tip a waiter. The purpose of action is, ‘I will eat at this restaurant and be served and attended to by a waiter but will not pay the waiter for their services.’ The universal law can be, ‘I will be treated to the same standard as the other customers despite not tipping and breaking the mutual agreement between a customer and a server.’ Finally the question of is it rational for a world that follows this law to exist. The answer can be decided as being no because a server is not likely to give the same service to a customer that does not tip than to a customer that does. It is likely that the non-tipping customer will be refused by the servers if it is known that they will not tip after their meal. In this particular society, the general consensus on restaurants is that the server is to be tipped 10-20% of the bill. By not tipping, one is breaking this ‘universal law’ and can be deemed as being morally wrong.