Reason Shmeason.

I find it interesting how Kant focuses so strongly on reason and rational thought when it comes to morals. While this sounds reasonable and even like the best way to determine moral values, in reality it’s not very realistic.

People generally don’t make a pros and cons list for every action they make or even every controversy they face. Instead we listen to what our intuition and intincts; what we feel. It’s why we feel guilty when we eat someone’s food, why we feel good when you return a found wallet. We let out conscious make the decisions. Somethings may be morally ambiguous too based on where we are in society. If you are in a financially unstable environment you may do things that don’t make sense just from a pure reasonable standpoint. Stealing food is irrational- you could go to jail, you are taking from a person’s business, etc., however if you need the food to survive does that make it immoral? I don’t think so because I know that needed it to survive, and they aren’t actually a bad or immoral person. Every situation relies on context to determine it’s morality.

A major current controversy is people coming from Mexico to the US. Families are separated and torn apart, and people can’t escape poor financial or political conditions. How I know that it is wrong to keep people out of the US just because they are not a citizen is in how I feel. It hurts to put myself it their situation. Empathy is the key that Kant is missing in his reason argument. Reason isn’t the only source of our moral beliefs, empathy and our intuitions are important aspects that Kant ignores.

5 thoughts on “Reason Shmeason.

  1. Danielle, I agree with your idea that there are morally ambiguous things in the world, but I don’t agree with your point that reason is not a good way to find out what true morality is. I think what makes things morally ambiguous is our intuition and instincts because both intuition and instincts are shaped by one’s experience. Hence, people from different cultures would have different intuition and instincts. This variance of judgment criteria is where the ambiguity comes from. Therefore, for avoiding the interference of individual experience, we should utilize reason to find out what true morality is because reason is the best method to avoid interferences from personal experience. What is more, the effectiveness of reason has been proved in the scientific fields. That’s why I think the reason is the best way to find out true morality.

  2. Danielle, I disagree with your idea that reason alone cannot be the sole source of our moral judgment. I would argue that when people make important moral decisions, they do weight the possible outcomes. In your example of stealing food, I think that stealing is the rational thing to do because the risk of going to jail is less than that of starving to death. So while I agree that stealing, in this case, would not be immoral, I still think this can be explained with reason.

  3. Hi Danielle,

    I agree with your take on Kant’s argument and it’s actually something I was curious about too. Your example of stealing food to survive gives an alternative perspective that shows how judging one’s actions as immoral or moral are not as simple as black and white. Thus, this is where we have to see how this applies in context to really consider why the action is immoral or moral. Kant’s argument about what is considered moral worth takes the concept of duty into consideration, but it seems kinda contradictory when it applies to unique situations, such as your example of immigration. Therefore, I think that it’s difficult to confidently state whether one’s actions are immoral or moral.

  4. Danielle, you made some good points here, such as considering empathy as an important aspect of human’s moral beliefs. I agree with your point that reason is not the only way to determine moral judgments in some way because our intuitions and instincts also take place. However, I do consider reason an important factor when people make decisions. It is for sure that decisions made often depends on the situation and sometimes decided with impulse, but I will say that even if decisions are made based on contexts and intuition, the fundamental reasons often lies beneath the surface, where people don’t think about but remains there.

  5. Hi Danielle,

    Very thought provoking post. I agree that reason cannot be the sole decision making factor in many of life’s daily or important decision; one must always consider their own and others feelings, or run the risk of reasoning themselves into doing good things at the expense of others. However, I believe there are certain situations where I believe people should use reason and nothing else for the best possible outcome. For example, if one is not living in a safe society and instead is living in a jungle like society, he or she may care less about an animal’s pain when acquiring meat to eat. Nowadays, since we are scientifically and informationally equipped to survive easily, it is justifiable to involve empathy in one’s diet and subsequently go vegan or vegetarian, or eat sustainably produced meat that kills animals without them suffering. Since Kant lives a less developed society where reason and individualism was yet to be emphasized, I can see why he stressed reason in order to benefit mankind, up till the point where empathy could be brought into the equation.

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