What is the morality of Immanuel Kant?


Immanuel Kant

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Kant’s morality is a morality that is based on rationality and logic rather than on tradition or religion.

Kant’s main moral premise can be seen in his categorical imperative.  There are two main formulations of this imperative.  First, Kant says that a person must always act according to a “maxim” if they can also will that that maxim should be a universal law.  In other words, if I say “it is alright for me to steal this because I really want it,” I have to be able to accept a world in which everyone steals everything that they really want (even if it belongs to me).  Second, Kant says that people must always treat humanity (both other people and themselves) as ends and not solely as means.  In other words, we must never simply use other people as a means of getting what we want.  We must act in ways that recognize that they are important in and of themselves.

Thus, Kant’s morality is one that is based on logically and rationally considering the bases of our actions.  It does not simply say “do these things and do not do these other things.”  Instead, it requires us to think about the logical consequences of the ideas on which we base our actions.


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