Ethics can be examined in many different manners, however, Kant’s model of ethics presents a framework to explain how people perceive ethics through reward and punishment. Kant feels that the only way to truly understand ethics is to experience a variety of ethical dilemmas and learn to solve them through emotional stimulus. Kant’s concept of moral obligation is that there is a priori concept of our minds. This essentially removes God as the basis for morality, and argues that we have free-will in regards to our own moral compass.
Kant argues that ethics are learned throughout the course of our life. For example, a young man is offered a promotion at work, despite knowing that another more experienced person is infinitely more qualified for the job. The young man feels that the company would be more profitable and successful under the other person’s guidance while he is not so confident in his own ability to do so. What should he do?
Kant tries to solve ethical dilemmas “by answering a series of questions that sum up interests of reason, both speculative and practical. They included: 1. what can I know? 2. What ought I to do? and 3. What may I hope? It is not enough for us to effect appropriate results in the world: distinctively human virtue involves having morally good reasons and intentions.” (Stevenson & Haberman, 2009).The young man can first begin by looking at the facts, what he did to earn the promotion, his strengths and weakness and the strengths and weaknesses of the more experienced employee. Next he must decide if he truly feels that he is under qualified, if so he must next decide to either learn more of step down from the position. Finally he can hope that either he is able to learn the new job or that he can know he did the option that was in the best interest of the company.
This theory differs from that of Aristotle, who feels the highest fulfillment of human life was only attainable to those that gained rational knowledge, human morality is part of a personal transcendent of God (Hollebeke). Aristotle also believes that the highest form of morality and goodness is happiness. He saw happiness is the ultimate end for human beings and happiness alone makes life worth living. Aristotle would solve the problem by saying that the man should put his trust in God to choose what he feels is right. He should chose the option that will make him happiest, the benefits of a new job or his honesty (Cantor, 1990).
In this particular dilemma, I feel that Kant’s method is best. It involves thinking about the factual reasons why one choice may be better than another. Overall, this method is a bit more inclusive for this particular problem.
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