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What Are The Main Concepts Of Kantian Ethics? 

Referencing Styles : APA | Pages : 1

Kantian ethics mainly refers to deontological ethical theory credited to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. According to these theories, the rightness or wrongness of actions does not rely on their consequences but on whether they obey or accomplish duty. As per the principles of Kant, there has been a supreme principle of morality and thus referred it as the “Categorical Imperative” (CI). The Categorical Imperative mainly determines values and moral duties. Kant considered the CI as a purpose, rationally essential and unconditional principle that individuals must certainly pursue regardless of any form of natural desires or predispositions individuals might have to the contrary. As per Kant, all particular moral requirements are explained by this principle, further implying that all immoral actions are illogical or irrational as they disrupt the idea of the CI. To comprehend Kantian ethics one must understand the problem which he along with other thinkers had been intending to shed light upon. From time immemorial, ethical and moral beliefs of individuals had been based on religion. For example, scriptures like the Bible or the Koran articulated values and moral rules which had been perceived to be handed down from God: Don’t kill. Don’t steal. Don’t commit adultery.” The reality that rules came from God and has given them their authority. However, with scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries along with the significant cultural movement known as the Enlightenment which followed gave rise to another critical problem for such thoughts. Scottish moral philosopher Alisdair MacIntrye named led this problem as “the Enlightenment problem.” The problem has to come up with a secular which has been regarded as a non-religious–account of underlying principles of morality and importance of moral and ethical thinking. Kant majorly based his theory on the belief that reason should be utilized in order to determine the way people ought to act. He did not endeavoured to prescribe specific action, but inculcated that reason should be utilized to specifically determine ways to behave.

Good will and duty

Kant in his theory argued that the only virtue which can be unqualifiedly good is a good will. As per Kantian theory, no other virtue has such a position as every other virtue can be used in order to attain immoral ends. The good will is exclusive in that it is always good and thus maintains its ethical value even when it cannot achieve its moral intentions. Kant regarded the good will as a single moral principle which liberally chooses to use the other virtues for moral ends. Kant’s idea of duty does not cover which individuals perform their duties reluctantly. Even though duty usually obliges people and encourages them to act in contradiction of their inclinations, it still comes from an agent’s volition that is they aspire to maintain the moral law. As a result, when people perform an action from duty it is for the reason that the rational incentives are vital to them more than their conflicting inclinations.

Categorical Imperative

The major formulation of Kantian ethics is the categorical imperative. Kant made a peculiarity between categorical and hypothetical imperatives. A hypothetical imperative is cases where people must they seek to satisfy their desires. For example, ‘go to the doctor’ is known as a hypothetical imperative as people are only obliged to obey it if they want to improve their health conditions. However, CI unites people despite of their desires implying that everyone has a duty to avoid lying despite of any type of situations and even if it aligns to individual interests. These imperatives are regarded to be ethically binding as they are based on reason, instead of stating contingent facts regarding an agent. As per Kantian ethics, unlike hypothetical imperatives, which unite individuals to such an extent that they are part of a group or society which people be obliged duties. Individuals cannot decline the categorical imperative as they cannot reject of being rational agents. Thus, individuals must be obliged to the duty to prudence and wisdom by virtue of being rational agents. Thus, as per Kantian theory, rational moral principles apply to all rational agents at all times.


Kant’s first formulation of the Categorical Imperative is that of universalizability which can only be approved an individual show inclination towards the maxim that permits the action to be a universal law by which everyone acts. However, maxims can fail this test if they create either a contradiction in conception or a contradiction in the will when universalized. A contradiction in conception occurs at times if a maxim requires to be universalized, it ceases to make sense because the “where maxim would essentially put an end to itself as soon as it developed as a universal law.”

The Ends Principle

Another version of CI which Kant offers states that individual should “always treat people as ends in themselves, never simply as a means to individuals’ own ends. This is usually referred to as the “ends principle.” The key to Kantian ethics is that Kant what makes individuals moral and ethical beings are the fact that humans are free and rational. However, in order to treat an individual as means to one’s personal ends or intentions are not to respect this fact regarding them. For example, if an individual get you to agree to perform any activity by making false assurances, then the other individual might be manipulating the other individual. In this case, the decision to help the manipulated individual is mainly based on inaccurate information.

Kant argued that good life is a life a duty and that lives of other individuals are not worthwhile. Kant’s fundamental idea is that morality is essentially grounded in reason. Furthermore, if there remains a valid reason as to why individuals should not commit immoral acts, then such reasoning applies to all individuals. If there certainly is a reason to show utmost reverence and dignity, or not to make fake promises, then such reasoning applies to all individuals whether individual want it to or not.



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