What is Kant’s theory of ethics?
Immanuel Kant believed in an objective right and wrong based on reason.
He believed that we should do the right thing not because it fills our desires or because we feel it is right, but because it is the right thing to do, and we would know it is right by using our reason and not because of our intuitions or based on the way the world works. To test a person’s moral maximum, we need to see if everyone follows it and we must reject if we cannot. Kant opposed the view that moral divisions are made on culturally relative or subjective so that there are no such things as moral absolutes. Kant had a deontological approach to ethics. Modern deontology avoids too close a link with Kant and rejects his complete disregard for consequences; however his moral theory is still influential in our day and age.
Kant’s Copernican revolution
Kant mainly studied the formal structures of pure reasoning, causality, knowledge not based on experience, and the question of objectivity. Kant’s work was the reaction against the rationalist and empiricists, and was concerned with the problem of objective knowledge. He said – can I have knowledge of the world that is not just ‘knowledge of the world as it seems to me’? He was asking the question ‘How do we know what we know and what does it mean to know?’
Other philosophers views on knowledge
Descartes – the foundation of knowledge is the knowledge of one’s own existence: ‘I think therefore I am.’ – Kant criticised