Although Kant develops his ethical theory through all his work, it is more clearly defined in his groundworks such as The Metaphysics of Morals and Critique of Practical Reason. As part of the Enlightenment tradition, his theory of ethics is based on the belief that reason should be used to determine how a person should act in certain situations.
Kant considered understanding the cause and effect of moral rules one of the most important tasks in philosophy. He said: “Two things always fill the soul with new and increasingly powerful wonder and awe, the more often we are meditating on them: the starry sky above us and the moral law within us”.
According to Kant, man acts of need in one respect and freely in another: as a phenomenon among other phenomena of nature, man is subject to the need, but as a moral creature, it belongs to the world intelligent things. And as it, he is free. As a moral creature, man obeys only the moral duty.
Moral duty Kant formulates in the form of the moral law or moral categorical imperative. This law requires that everyone personal behavior could be the example for behavior of other. If the actions meet the demands of the moral law, but is caused by sensual tendency, such behavior, said Kant, cannot be called moral. The act is moral only if it is done out of respect for the moral law. The core of morality is a “good will”, which expresses the deeds perpetrated in the name of moral obligation, and not for any other purposes (for example, due to fear or desire to look good in the eyes of other people, for selfish purposes, such as personal benefits, etc.). Therefore, Kant’s ethics moral duty resisted utilitarian ethical concepts, as well as religious-theological ethical teachings.
Kant’s teachings on morality distinguishes between “maxim” and “law”. The first refers to the subjective will of a single person, when the law is the expression of general validity, the principle having power for everybody. Kant calls such a law an imperative, i.e. the rule that is characterized by necessity, which is interpreted to be bound to the act. Kant divides imperatives on hypothetical that are associated with the presence of certain conditions, and categorical, which are compulsory in all conditions. As for moral, there should be only one categorical imperative, as its highest law.
Kant considered it essential to explore all the moral duties of man. He believed the first duty to preserve human live and health. The vices he considered suicide, drunkenness, gluttony. Virtues of truthfulness, honesty, sincerity, integrity, dignity, he contrasted to the vices of lies and servility. The two main duties of the people against each other Kant felt love and respect. Love he interpreted as a favor to determine “how to enjoy the happiness of others”. Compassion he consider an ability to share the misery and pleasures of others.
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