Immanuel Kant’s Beliefs of Reason in Ethics

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After reading and studying the different aspects of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy and ethics, I learned about his beliefs of reason in ethics. After understanding Kant’s view on reason, I believe he is partly correct with these beliefs. Kant’s theories revolve around rationality, where, reason for ethics matter, rationality related to universalizability is good, Rationality related to sanity is good, and rationality and humanity are interconnected. Along with his beliefs, there are some oppositions to his stance. Although some objections have been made to his ideas, Kant is partially correct with his beliefs of reason in ethics.

Kant showed his beliefs about reason in ethics, which may be different than some of the other philosophers we have studied. Kant thought reason was very important to ethics and thought the reason for carrying out an action is more important than the result. According to Matt McCormick, “When we act, whether or not we achieve what we intend with our actions is often beyond our control, so the morality of our actions does not depend upon their outcome.” In Kant’s book, Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals, he says that when the motivation for an action comes only from reason, it is truly moral.(3) Immanuel Kant also believed Even if an individual cannot do anything, but they have a good will, they are good.

Kant also believed that rationality could be applied to universalizability. With this, Kant means that using reason, individuals should only act on things they could use as a universal law. Relating to universalizability, Kant implemented the categorical imperative, where he says to act on moral absolutes. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Kant characterized the CI as an objective, rationally necessary and unconditional principle that we must always follow despite any natural desires or inclinations we may have to the contrary.”(Johnson, Cureton)

Kant also believes that rationality in the sense of sanity is good. Kant is saying that for people to be truly rational, they must be sane individuals, if someone is not sane, they are not truly rational, which would mean they are not good. I agree with this statement Kant makes, because in order for an individual to have the effects of human reason, they must be sane. Some of the other philosophers discussed this because when someone is not mentally healthy, they are essentially an animal, and are not rational beings.

Lastly, in Kant’s beliefs of reason, he says that rationality and humanity are almost the same thing, where a person is a human because they are rational. This means our rationality is essentially what separates us from animals. Being able to think rationally is almost essentially what gives an individual their humanity. I agree with this statement Kant makes, because our rationality is essentially what separates us from animals, and reason is connected to our humanity.

Kant’s view on reason has caused many objections to his key points. The first objection to his belief that the reason for ethics is more important than the result. If the result of someone’s action is good, then that should be considered good, but not to Kant. For Kant, the reason for an action is more important than the result. This has created objections because if someone does something good, no matter their motivations, shouldn’t that be considered good.

Another objection to Kant’s ethics with reason is that universalizing things doesn’t work. By this, they are saying that nothing can be made universal relating to his categorical imperative. He believes these maxims you act on should only be used if they can be applied universally. For many this is hard to agree with because it is impossible to universalize most things, and even ethical issues. This objection exists because when you universalize things, it just doesn’t work, where one maxim may work for many situations, it is bound to not be the right thing to do in a different situation.

The final Objection to Kant’s ethical beliefs is that it doesn’t detail what it is rational to want. This means that our human desires and wants are not made clear as to which ones are thought of as rational or irrational. This creates an issue, because if people do not know what it is rational to want, what is rational at all.

I disagree with the first objection that is presented to Kant’s belief that reason is more important than the result. I think Kant’s belief makes sense because if people have good intentions, it is good. Although someone may have a good result, if they have a bad reason or bad intentions, it almost defeats the purpose of doing the act in the first place.

I tend to agree with the second objection to Kant’s ethics with reason, because things cannot truly be universalized. I agree with this because each situation, even with ethical issues should be approached differently, and using Kant’s categorical imperative could not work properly for everything. When considering examples of universalization, if there were to be a world where everyone made false promises, then nobody would borrow anyone money, because it is known that nobody would honor your agreement. In this scenario, universalization does not work, and nothing can be made a universal law.

I also agree with the final objection to Kant’s ethics with reason. Although Kant made many true statements regarding reason and ethics, he did not identify what is rational to want. This creates a problem with his theory because since it is not made clear whether humans will naturally know what is rational to want, or if it comes from another source, and that creates an issue with his beliefs.

Kant’s beliefs of reason in ethics are different than many of the philosophers we have previously studied. After studying the different aspects of Kant’s ethics, I think Kant is partially correct with his beliefs. There are many objections to Kant’s beliefs of reason in ethics, I agree with some of these objections including the objection pertaining to universalization. Even with some of the shortcomings of Kant’s ideas of ethics and reason, I believe he is still partially correct.

Works Cited

  1. Kant, Immanuel, and Mary J. Gregor. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Cambridge, U.K: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Print.
  2. Johnson, Robert, and Adam Cureton. “Kant’s Moral Philosophy.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 7 July 2016, plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-moral/.
  3. McCormick, Matt. “Immanuel Kant: Metaphysics.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, www.iep.utm.edu/kantmeta/#H7.

Cite this paper

Immanuel Kant’s Beliefs of Reason in Ethics. (2021, Jul 30). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/immanuel-kants-beliefs-of-reason-in-ethics/

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