Little progress has been made so far in demystifying the controversy of judging the criterion of what is right or wrong. Since the dawn of philosophy, the question of the “summum bonum” or the greatest good concerning morality. The question has resulted in division into sects and schools warning against each other and is recognized as the core problem when thinking speculatively.
According to the Kantian theory, the basis of defining good or bad is based on the will or the intention behind the action. There is nothing impossible to think of in the world or outside it that can be considered good without its limitations except a good will. The power of judgment, understanding, persistent in an intention and courage are good and desirable. However, they can prove to be quite harmful and evil if the intention (will) is to use these gifts of nature is not good (evil). The same applies to the gifts of fortune such as wealth, power, and health.
Moderation in passions and passions, sober reflections, and self-control are not only beneficial for many aims but seem to make up a part of a person’s inner worth. However, they still lack much for them to be declared as good without limitations. Without the purpose of a good will, they easily become extreme evils. The goodwill is considered good not through what it accomplishes or effects but only through its willingness, i.e., good in itself and intended for itself.
There is something strange, however in the idea of a complete worth of the will alone according to Kant; Without giving any allowance for utility in its measure despite agreeing with it even on common reason. Nevertheless, there must arise a suspicion that appears grounded on fantasy and that nature could have been wrongly understood in the aim it had on allocating reason to govern our will. If, in a human being that has reason and a will, its happiness were the real end of nature. In addition, nature would have made a very wrong arrangement when appointing reason in this individual to accomplish the aim. All the individual’s actions executed towards this aim, and their entire rule of conduct would be dictated to them more specifically through instinct. The desired end, therefore, could be therefore obtained more safely through this way than it could through reason.
A more cultivated reason purposes itself to the aim of enjoying happiness and life and the individual falls short of true contentment. Since reason is not sufficient in guiding the will safely concerning the satisfaction of all human needs and its objects, as a natural instinct is, reason has nevertheless been imparted to us as basic faculty. Reason ought to influence the will in its true vocation and therefore must not produce a wrong action as a means to another end, but instead, produce a good will in itself. Will may, therefore, not be entirely good but the highest good and hence the condition for all the rest. Reason recognizes the highest vocation in the grounding of a good will and is capable of achieving this aim only as contentment after its kind, from the fulfillment of an end that only reason determines.
Immanuel Kant is famous for his work in the theory of knowledge and metaphysics. Kant believes that ethics is the most important topic in philosophy. His theory became known as the Kantian ethics theory. The Kantian theory is derived from “deontology’ which is the Greek word for obligation. This category means if the rules can be applicable to everyone, then the rules are universally acceptable, and the resulting actions are allowed and obligatory.
The main theme in Kant's theory of morals is the view that nature occasionally allows humans to use their reason and their freedom of will. Humans then develop their rational predispositions leading to the progress in areas that require reason to be employed. People developmental process is not smooth and according to Kant, individuals have a weird psychological characteristic he refers to as unsocial sociability. This characteristic describes a mixed inclination of social interaction, conflict, and isolation.
According to Kant, there exists only one moral of principle, the concept of morality and truth. He distinguishes three methods of the use of reason and its three corresponding predispositions. These predispositions include the pragmatic, technical, and moral employments of reason. The results of the development of these predispositions to be used in reason are prudence, skill, and morality. The process by which they are developed is called moral education, civilization moralization or cultivation. According to Kant, all these predispositions in humans are meant to develop one day.
The Kantian theory conceives of moral reasoning instead of balancing, prioritizing and weighing of duty and the obligations based on them. Some duties are wide and imperfect and only require setting of ends while others are strict and perfect requiring omissions and actions. Kant thinks that the concept of duty is applicable to actions because we can and in other times, must constrain ourselves rationally to perform them.
The Kantian theory believes in the human right to freedom; Kant states that freedom belongs to every human by his or her virtue of humanity. This statement goes to suggest that the principle of right that governs all rights to freedom may be based in the Formula of Humanity as an End in Itself. Kant discredits the idea that the principle of right is derived from the principle of morality by stating that the principle of right is analytic unlike the principle of morality. Kant argues that it is analytic because one does not require going beyond the concept of freedom to see that external struggle is rightful if it controls the hindering of outer freedom.
The Kantian theory suggests that morality ought to have a role in shaping our ends. Ethical duties are grounded on the on the principle that human’s ends should include one’s happiness and the happiness of others. The only limits are that both these ends and the method towards achieving them should violate neither your duties to yourself nor your duties in respecting others. Kant’s theory permits moral agents to pursue such projects and even underwrites the pursuit arguing that it has moral merit.
The Kantian theory offers three primary formulas of humanity. The first identifies the principle by using the universal law, the second by the ends motive. Lastly, by the rational will as legislative for means to an end, and by determination of maxims present in the idea of autonomy. Kant’s emphasis in his writings of the moral law as an exclusive principle of the will, and his omission of a possibility of an objective end as a motive of the will with the formula of humanity being an end in itself may give the impression that Kant sees it as not significant in the theory he proposes.
The Kantian theory makes frequent use of the doctrine of virtue in the formulation of the moral law that stresses the ends of actions. The centrality of ends contained in the doctrine of virtue so one that people should not say that Kant opposes an ethical theory that is based on the pursuit of ends. Kant argues that such a theory is not based on any end that is represented as a natural object of desire. He believes that the ends of morality should instead be based on a rational principle that should be in turn based on an end in itself. The ends we desire and choose to pursue express our respect for the dignity of the rationale nature.
When Kant states that other people’s happiness is an end, which is a duty as well, he believes that it is a merit for me to promote other people's happiness. However, he does not think it is required for me to maximize other people’s happiness. He argues that it is more rewarding to promote your happiness if it requires making a sacrifice to do so than when it does not.
Kant fails to recognize and appreciate the moral importance of having emotions, feelings or desires that are always in harmony with morality. We cannot help but think that we would prefer to be helped by an individual who feels something towards us rather than one who helps merely because it is their duty. According to Kant’s theory, in the example of a sorrowful man he gives, the man acts from duty and recognition that those in need of his help are ends in themselves. Kant identifies motive appropriate with morality with the dignity of humanity as an end in itself.
In the doctrine of virtue, four feelings that are based on morality as the subjective conditions of receptiveness of duty as a concept are listed. First is respect for the law, and man's rational nature, the rest are conscience, love for mankind and moral feelings. The Kantian theory suggests that it cannot be considered a duty to possess these feelings. He insists they are the result of presuppositions of morality as an agent.
An example of the Kant theory would apply if scientists discovered a drug that enhances a person’s brain capacity to 100%, but would die 48 hours later. Would you take it? According to Kant’s theory, every human being should be treated as an end to itself and never a means to an end. However, Kant seems likely to have supported the drug only if it the individual taking the drug is willing to do so in order to save humanity. He states, “It is man's duty and obligation to maintain one’s life. However, if sorrow and adversity have stripped the joy of life, if the unfortunate individual, indignant of his fate, strong in mind rather than dejected wishes for their death, and still lives life without loving it, -from duty, not from fear or inclination- then this maxim bears moral worth”