Kant's Theory of Ethical Duty

Topics: Immanuel Kant, Ethics, Philosophy Pages: 4 (1198 words) Published: September 12, 2012
Kant’s Theory of Ethical Duty: A Deeper Look

Immanuel Kant, one of the most significant and popular theorists, was also one of the last key philosophers of the Enlightenment period. Existing ethical assumptions are being deduced using this ethical theory of duty, which argues that the when an action can be supported and willed by practical reason and universal law, it is the right action. Kant did not believe that just mere virtues can measure ethics. Looking at Kant’s general criticisms of previous ethical theories, his definitions of autonomy and heteronomy, his formulation of categorical imperative principle and the relationship between categorical imperative and autonomous ethical choice, the argument is that there is not one theory of ethics that could summarize man’s power to decide what’s good and bad. Criticizing previous ethical concepts

Kant’s thoughts on Jeremy Bentham’s theory of Retributivism, a theory that emphasizes on arguing that all punishment is evil, were the opposite. Kant argued that punishment is necessary when an individual does something wrong. This he asserted that to keep balance, there should be a way to pay off and justify the wrong deed. He also criticized another theory – the theory of aesthetics by Alexander Goittlied Baumgarten. The theory states that God is the absolute creator of all natural compulsions being the creator of Earth. However, Kant overlooked at religion which appeared to be the focus of Baumgarten’s theory of aesthetics by arguing that the definite authority lies in the nature instead. Defining autonomy and Heteronomy

Autonomy and heteronomy as defined are both free will, but of entirely varying classes. Autonomy, by definition, is the choice to take action separately, without being influenced by external factors or authorities. As Pence (2000) stated, Kant defined autonomy as “autonomy of action is a necessary condition for moral choice”. Simply out,...

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