Read e-book online An Introduction to Kant's Ethics PDF

By Roger J. Sullivan

ISBN-10: 0521467691

ISBN-13: 9780521467698

This is often the main updated, short and obtainable creation to Kant's ethics to be had. It ways the ethical idea through the political philosophy, hence permitting the reader to understand why Kant argued that the felony constitution for any civil society should have an ethical foundation. This strategy additionally explains why Kant concept that our simple ethical norms may still function legislation of behavior for everybody. the quantity additionally contains a special statement on Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant's most generally studied paintings of ethical philosophy.

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In their judgment, he wrote, there is a radical difference between being happy and being morally good; people do not think that the fact that someone seeks or achieves happiness means that person also seeks or achieves moral goodness, or vice versa (442). 3 We might respond to Kant by arguing that a morally good intention is one that promotes morally permissible happiness. But in that case also morally good character still must depend on intending to do what one should, and the only morally good intention is the intention always to do (to act on the maxim or policy to do) one's duty (397, 399-400).

Here, a person whose life is flourishing adopts the maxim of simply ignoring everyone else (423). He will neither contribute to nor detract from their welfare, and he is willing to have everyone else treat him in exactly the same fashion. Such a maxim would not be inconsistent with itself as a universal law. "It is possible that a universal law of nature could subsist in harmony with this maxim/' Kant wrote. "If such an attitude were a universal law of nature, mankind could get on perfectly well/' certainly better than in an ethical state of nature, in which people mistreat each other.

This doctrine appears most dramatically in the Foundations in the second formula of the Categorical Imperative, the Formula of Respect for the Dignity of Persons. What did Kant learn from Frederick the Great and his son? He learned that tyranny wrongly treats its citizens as mere things, some to be favored, others not, but all to be used only to serve the ruler's desires. The first formula of the Categorical Imperative therefore insists that just laws must apply to everyone without exception. Those laws are, originally at least, negations, not imposed simply to use people but legislated to protect everyone's freedom.

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An Introduction to Kant's Ethics by Roger J. Sullivan


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