November 26, 2013
Discuss Immanuel Kant’s that moral rules/principles (or moral laws) must be categorical. What does Kant mean by this? Next, discuss Philippa Foot’s criticisms of Kant’s view. Why does Foot think that moral rules/principles are not necessarily categorical?
Kant believed that certain types of actions, such as murder, theft, and lying, were completely wrong and prohibited, even in cases where the action would bring about more happiness than the alternative. There are two questions that Kantians must ask themselves. (1) Can I rationally believe that everyone act as I propose to act? If the answer is no, then the action should not be performed. (2) Does my action respect the goals of human beings rather than merely using them for my own selfish purposes? Again, if the answer is no, then the action should not be performed.
Kant believed that there was a highest principle of morality, and he referred to it as the categorical imperative, which determines what our moral duties are. Categorical imperatives are commanded unconditionally. A few examples of the categorical imperative in everyday life could be a situation where you are at a red light in the early morning. Nobody is coming in any direction and this certain red light is infamous for being extremely long, and you are running late for work. You can go ahead and run this light and only if you would will this action into a universal law, which means you would want everyone to run red lights anytime they are running late. Another example of the categorical imperative could be to never cheat on your taxes. Even if you want to cheat and doing so would serve your interests, you may not cheat.
Philippa Foot criticizes Kant’s view of the categorical imperative. Foot argues that Kant viewed morality wrongly, and that he viewed it as a matter of categorical imperative, rather than hypothetical. Foot identifies the issue as the question of the binding force of morality....