Kantianism

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Kantianism is the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher born in Königsberg, Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). The term Kantianism or Kantian is sometimes also used to describe contemporary positions in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and ethics.

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Ethics

Kantian ethics are deontological, revolving entirely around duty rather than emotions or end goals. All actions are performed in accordance with some underlying maxim or principle, which are vastly different from each other; it is according to this that the moral worth of any action is judged. Kant's ethics are founded on his view of rationality as the ultimate good and his belief that all people are fundamentally rational beings. This led to the most important part of Kant's ethics, the formulation of the categorical imperative, which is the criterion for whether a maxim is good or bad.

Simply put, this criterion amounts to a thought experiment: to attempt to universalize the maxim (by imagining a world where all people necessarily acted in this way in the relevant circumstances) and then see if the maxim and its associated action would still be conceivable in such a world. For instance, holding the maxim kill anyone who annoys you and applying it universally would result in self termination. Thus holding this maxim is irrational as it ends up being impossible to hold it.

Universalizing a maxim (statement) leads to it being valid, or to one of two contradictions—a contradiction in conception (where the maxim, when universalized, is no longer a viable means to the end) or a contradiction in will (where the will of a person contradicts what the universalization of the maxim implies). The first type leads to a "perfect duty", and the second leads to an "imperfect duty".

Kant's ethics focus, then, only on the maxim that underlies actions, and judges these to be good or bad solely on how they conform to reason. Kant showed that many of our common sense views of what is good or bad conform to his system, but denied that any action performed for reasons other than rational actions can be good (saving someone who is drowning simply out of a great pity for them is not a morally good act). Kant also denied that the consequences of an act in any way contribute to the moral worth of that act, his reasoning being (highly simplified for brevity) that the physical world is outside our full control, and thus we cannot be held accountable for the events that occur in it.

The formulations of the categorical imperative:

  1. Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law. [1]
  2. Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end. [2]
  3. Therefore, every rational being must so act as if he were, through his maxim, always a legislating member in the universal kingdom of ends. [3]

Political philosophy

In political philosophy, Kant has had wide and increasing influence with major political philosophers of the late twentieth century. For example, John Rawls [4] [5] drew heavily on his inspiration in setting out the basis for a liberal view of political institutions.[ clarification needed ] The nature of Rawls' use of Kant has engendered serious controversy [ clarification needed ] but has demonstrated the vitality of Kantian considerations across a wider range of questions than was once thought plausible.

See also

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Kantian ethics Ethical theory of Immanuel Kant

Kantian ethics refers to a deontological ethical theory developed by German philosopher Immanuel Kant that is based on the notion that: "It is impossible to think of anything at all in the world, or indeed even beyond it, that could be considered good without limitation except a good will." The theory was developed as a result of Enlightenment rationalism, stating that an action can only be good if its maxim—the principle behind it—is duty to the moral law, and arises from a sense of duty in the actor.

Moral rationalism, also called ethical rationalism, is a view in meta-ethics according to which moral principles are knowable a priori, by reason alone. Some prominent figures in the history of philosophy who have defended moral rationalism are Plato and Immanuel Kant. Perhaps the most prominent figure in the history of philosophy who has rejected moral rationalism is David Hume. Recent philosophers who have defended moral rationalism include Richard Hare, Christine Korsgaard, Alan Gewirth, and Michael Smith.

Radical evil is a phrase used by German philosopher Immanuel Kant, one representing the Christian term, radix malorum. Kant believes that human beings naturally have a tendency to be evil. He explains radical evil as corruption in a human being that takes over them entirely. It has their desire acting against the universal moral law. The outcome of one's natural tendency, or innate propensity, towards evil are actions or "deeds" that subordinate the moral law. By Kant, these actions oppose the universally moral maxims and displayed from self-love and self conceit. By many authors, Kant's concept of radical evil is seen as a paradox and inconsistent through his development of moral theories.

Allen William Wood is an American philosopher specializing in the work of Immanuel Kant and German Idealism, with particular interests in ethics and social philosophy. He is the Ruth Norman Halls professor of philosophy at Indiana University and has held professorships and visiting appointments at numerous universities in the United States and Europe. In addition to popularising and clarifying the ethical thought of Kant, Wood has also mounted arguments against the validity of trolley problems in moral philosophy.

Thomas English Hill Jr. is Emeritus Kenan Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a specialist in ethics, political philosophy, history of ethics and the work of Immanuel Kant. He has also a Past-President of the American Philosophical Association.

Axiological ethics

Axiological ethics is concerned with the values which we hold our ethical standards and theories up to. It questions what, if any, basis exists for such values. Through doing so, it explores the justification for our values, and examines if there is any beyond arbitrary preference. While axiological ethics can be considered a subfield within the branch of ethics, it also draws in thought from other fields of philosophy, such as epistemology and value theory.

References

  1. Kant, Immanuel (1993). Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals . Translated by James W. Ellington (3rd ed.). Hackett. p.  30. ISBN   0-87220-166-X.
  2. Kant, Immanuel (1993). Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals . Translated by James W. Ellington (3rd ed.). Hackett. p.  36. ISBN   0-87220-166-X.
  3. Kant, Immanuel (1993). Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals . Translated by James W. Ellington (3rd ed.). Hackett. p.  43. ISBN   0-87220-166-X.
  4. Thomas, Domjahn. "John Rawls and Immanuel Kant - A Comparison (seminar paper, 2006)" . Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  5. Vadim, Chaly (June 2015). "An Interpretation of Rawls' "Kantian Interpretation"". CON-TEXTOS KANTIANOS. International Journal of Philosophy (1): 142–155. doi:10.5281/zenodo.18510 . Retrieved 14 August 2019.

Bibliography