Kant's Moral Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Kant's moral philosophy is also based on the idea of autonomy. He holdsthat there is a single fundamental principle of morality, on which allspecific moral duties are based. He calls this moral law (as it ismanifested to us) the categorical imperative (see ). The moral law is a product of reason, for Kant, whilethe basic laws of nature are products of our understanding. There areimportant differences between the senses in which we are autonomous inconstructing our experience and in morality. For example, Kant regardsunderstanding and reason as different cognitive faculties, although hesometimes uses “reason” in a wide sense to cover both. The categoriesand therefore the laws of nature are dependent on our specificallyhuman forms of intuition, while reason is not. The moral law does notdepend on any qualities that are peculiar to human nature but only onthe nature of reason as such, although its manifestation to us as acategorical imperative (as a law of duty) reflects the fact that thehuman will is not necessarily determined by pure reason but is alsoinfluenced by other incentives rooted in our needs and inclinations;and our specific duties deriving from the categorical imperative doreflect human nature and the contingencies of human life. Despite thesedifferences, however, Kant holds that we give the moral law toourselves, just as we also give the general laws of nature toourselves, though in a different sense. Moreover, we each necessarily give the samemoral law to ourselves, just as we each construct our experience inaccordance with the same categories. To summarize:
Aims and Methods of Moral Philosophy
Throughout his career, Immanuel Kant engaged many of the major issues that contemporary philosophy groups together under the heading “philosophy of religion.” These include arguments for the existence of God, the attributes of God, the immortality of the soul, the problem of evil, and the relationship of moral principles to religious belief and practice. In the writings from his so-called “pre-critical” period, i.e., before the publication of the in 1781, Kant was interested principally in the theoretical status and function of the concept of God. He thus sought to locate the concept of God within a systematically ordered set of basic philosophical principles that account for the order and structure of world.
In contrast to material principles, formal principles describe how oneacts without making reference to any desires. This is easiest tounderstand through the corresponding kind of imperative, which Kantcalls a categorical imperative. A categorical imperative commandsunconditionally that I should act in some way. So while hypotheticalimperatives apply to me only on the condition that I have and set thegoal of satisfying the desires that they tell me how to satisfy,categorical imperatives apply to me no matter what my goals and desiresmay be. Kant regards moral laws as categorical imperatives, which applyto everyone unconditionally. For example, the moral requirement to helpothers in need does not apply to me only if I desire to help others inneed, and the duty not to steal is not suspended if I have some desirethat I could satisfy by stealing. Moral laws do not have suchconditions but rather apply unconditionally. That is why they apply toeveryone in the same way.
Philosophical discussion: Kant’s Moral Law and the …
Kant: The categorical imperative says that actions must be logically consistent if they were to be universalized, in order for them to be moral.
Immanuel Kant (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
In Kant’s terms, a good will is a will whose decisions arewholly determined by moral demands or, as he often refers to this, bythe Moral Law. Human beings inevitably feel this Law as a constrainton their natural desires, which is why such Laws, as applied to humanbeings, are imperatives and duties. A human will in which the MoralLaw is decisive is motivated by the thought of duty. Aholy or divine will, if it exists, though good,would not be good because it is motivated by thoughts of duty becausesuch a will does not have natural inclinations and so necessarilyfulfills moral requirements without feeling constrained to do so. Itis the presence of desires that could operate independentlyof moral demands that makes goodness in human beings a constraint, anessential element of the idea of “duty.” So in analyzingunqualified goodness as it occurs in imperfectly rational creaturessuch as ourselves, we are investigating the idea of being motivated bythe thought that we are constrained to act in certain ways that wemight not want to simply from the thought that we are morallyrequired to do so.
Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) is the central figure in modern philosophy
Immanuel Kant (AD 1724-1804) Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who sought to respond to what he considered the failure of traditional metaphysics as well as the failures of idealism and skepticism. He called his solution a Copernican revolution. Rather than think our minds conform to the world, Kant thought that the world conforms to our minds. In addition to his work in epistemology, Kant also made a significant contribution to modern moral philosophy with his identification of the categorical imperative. Our seminarians study Kant their junior year in Epistemology and Ethics courses.
A Brief Summary of Kant’s Categorical Imperative | …
Morality, according to Kant, isn’t like this. Morality doesn’t tell us what to do on the assumption that we want to achieve a particular goal, e.g. staying out of prison, or being well-liked. Moral behaviour isn’t about staying out of prison, or being well-liked. Morality consists of categorical imperatives.