INtent vs IMpact?: What’s More IMportant

Immanuel Kant has a widely debated notion of ethics and morality that is rooted in the idea that intent is more important than consequences when it comes to what defines a morally good deed. Actions that stem from a rational and autonomous duty holds more worth because it weighs more importance on our ability to do something because it is right not because we will get something out of it or do it out of ulterior motive.

This philosophical/ ethical concept has always been something that I’ve questioned because someone’s actions may have good intentions but still end up hurting others or cause more harm than what was intended. If that happens then why is that action/person still considered morally good? Consequences to Kant may not be important but in a greater perspective, there may be something more important than respect to a subjective idea of a universal moral law. He assumes that we as humans all have the ability to characterize what is good and what is evil.

For example, microaggressions might come from a place of “good Intention” but may result in being something extremely offensive and harmful. When my Muslim father goes on airplanes, it might seem like someone’s good intention to be suspicious and ask the flight attendant to double-check his bags. What it’s really is, is a racially motivated microaggression that perpetuates harmful stereotypes and humiliates people just based off of their race. In this situation, Kant may justify a person’s actions because it seems like they had good will but what it is really doing is negating the feelings and harm done to the people involved. Just because the intent was there, the impact was still negative, and there should be an acknowledgment of the wrongdoing of their actions. Personally, I believe how you impact others should be a considering factor in what determines the morality of someone’s actions.

1 thought on “INtent vs IMpact?: What’s More IMportant

  1. Leyly, you made a good point here and I really agree with your saying that morality should be not only based on the intentions of behaviors but also on the consequences and impacts it brings about. I think your example is a good illustration of how people’s originally good intentions may bring offenses and unfairness to others, which cannot be considered as a morally right deed. If we do not take the consequences and outcomes of these behaviors into consideration, those deep-rooted stereotypes will never be extinguished and there will be more and more people in the danger of suffering from that. Therefore, we should really think about the impact of conduct before we come to the conclusion that whether it is morally good.

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