Essay on Kant: Morality and Kant

Submitted By apellegrin0
Words: 1035
Pages: 5

Duty Amongst Ones Morality Kant provides a number of interesting and thought provoking ideas based around the concept of morality in his book, “Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals”. He claims there is a systematic formula to ethics which consists of law, respect, and duty. After reading Kant's Grounding I found his views on the concept of duty to be by far the most intriguing aspect of his book. Although at times I found the concepts of Kant to be very complex and hard to fully grasp, I found myself questioning my own morality after reading his following statement on duty, “ he nevertheless tears himself from his deadly insensibility and performs the action without any inclination at all, but solely from duty-then for the first time his action has genuine moral worth”(11). After reading this, I began to recall a number of occasions in which I truly thought I was committing a genuine moral action. However, I came to the realization that I could not think of one instance where I had performed an action solely from the motive of duty without any inclination thus relinquishing any prior genuine moral worth I believed I possessed. For example, my previous belief on donating to Toys for Tots and picking my Grandmother up from dialysis was that both actions were genuinely moral. But after applying Kant's formula for moral worth to both situations, I discovered both have no genuine moral worth because each has a possible inclinations. Donating to Toys for Tots has the inclination of feeling good about yourself after committing such act, while picking my Grandmother up from dialysis has the inclination of avoiding the guilt of making her ride the bus home if I had not picked her up. As previously stated
I viewed both of these acts as genuinely moral but after further investigation into Kant's thoughts on duty and moral worth it has opened up my mind to a whole new way of thinking on the matter. It is my belief that Kant presents a number of rational and coherent arguments regarding duty and its role in morality. For example Kant describes ones duty as, “the necessity of an action done out of respect for the law”(13). This statement recognizes the fact that anyone can act out of instinct which could possibly result in a positive result. But only a rational being can recognize a general moral law and act for the sole purpose of respect for it. Kant claims actions are only considered genuinely good if they are undertaken for the sake of duty alone. It is often impossible to know even if my own true motives are pure. I’m left wondering what actions can be considered moral. This is where I found Kant’s lack of examples of pure moral actions to be quite disheartening. While he points out a number of ways an action can be considered amoral I feel his text lacks a number of sufficient examples of moral actions preformed solely from duty with no inclinations. I believe Kant's lack of examples of genuine moral action is due to the fact that he raised the bar on morality to such a point as to where it is almost impossible to find instances of actions performed solely out of duty. It is at this point, I am left to wonder if I ever have or ever will perform a genuinely moral action that satisfies Kant's formula for moral worth. According to Kant, one must respect moral law because it is our duty to do so. In addition, one must abide by the categorical imperative which Kant defines by saying, “act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become universal law” (30). Kant elaborates further on the categorical imperative by stating, “rationality's demand that rational beings give immediate respect for the impartiality, reliability, consistency, and universality of the moral law (15). What I interpret Kant to mean here is