Kant specifically says that people shouldn’t be treated as objects because they are human beings with feelings. We have to respect each other in every way possible in order to ensure that everybody is happy. I liked this about Kant because in today’s day everybody knows about respect. In order for someone to respect you, you need to show them respect in order to get along with each other. In today’s day some people don’t care about others while some people do and would do anything to get anything their way. An example is a show called “Dexter” where he cares for his sister and respects her even when the sister admitted into falling in love with him. Dexter never disrespected her in anyway and still loved her as a sister but he did think it was weird that his sister was in love with him. The moral of the story is that at the end he loved her as a sister but he doesn’t disrespect her in anyway.
Kant’s philosophy of treating people as an ends in themselves instead of as a means to an end resonates powerfully with my idea of how politicians and governments should ideally treat people in a democratic country, or any country for that matter. This is a very important idea because it strongly emphasizes on the value of human life. I find this philosophy very interesting because Kant doesn’t just state the maxim out of a personal whim or opinion; he actually provides a logical explanation to back this categorical imperative. He reasons that since morality is determined by reason, moral law is universal because reason is universal. Hence moral law applies equally to everyone. Therefore, acting morally means to treat every person as a moral agent and therefore as an end in itself, not as a means to an end.
The reality, however, is far from Kant’s ideal. Some governments and politicians around the world regularly abuse human rights. For example, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is one of the most repressive and undemocratic states in the world. Kim Jong-un exercises absolute political power over the country. The authoritarian government restricts all forms of human liberty and freedom in the country, including freedom of speech, assembly, religion, and the freedom to form political parties. The government systematically forces citizens (including women, children and prisoners) to provide unpaid labor , who are forced to build the country’s infrastructure and participate in events extolling the Kim family’s ruling and the Workers’ Party of Korea. The government uses arbitrary arrests, punishments, torture and execution to incite fear in people’s minds and gain control over them. The government partners with Chinese authorities to capture North Korean refugees and punishes the refugees for making international contact. The government does not care to protect and promote the rights of marginalized and weaker communities like women, children and crippled people. Kant would be devastated and horrified by the of abuse people, and most importantly valuable human lives, in countries like North Korea.
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.
Kant makes a point that people should refrain from being lazy. He argues that this is what a person must learn as he/she begins to grow up. I agree with Kant, as I believe that people should work to become the best versions of themselves.
This relates to the beliefs of Kobe Bryant, who used reasoning (which is a fundamental idea of the Enlightenment) as a fundamental idea behind his belief that people should become the best versions of themselves that they can possibly be. In an interview, Kobe Bryant used reasoning to explain how one can improve himself/herself. This is what he argued: if a person wakes up at 3:00 AM everyday, then he/she is able to get way more work done than a person who wakes up at 8:00 AM everyday. And as time progresses, there will eventually be a huge gap between the skillsets of those two people, and the person who woke up at 3:00 AM everyday will be years ahead of the person who woke up at 8:00 AM everyday. Like Kant, Kobe Bryant adamantly believed that people should not be lazy, and he applied this to his everyday life, which led to him becoming one of the best athletes to ever step on a basketball court. After he retired, he said that one of the quotes he lived by was to “rest at the end, not in the middle.” This helps to explain his intense work ethic.
Kant believes that people are not objects; that human beings must be respected and not used. The only circumstance in which one would “use” someone else is if we do not use that person as a means to our end. If we “use” someone, we must respect them in the process considering more than just our own self interests. I found this concept interesting because I agree that human beings should not be treated as objects. Innately, however, I think some people are better as others. I feel that some people take others feelings into consideration, while others have no issue pursuing what they want at the expense of others.
A modern example is a Netflix show called “You.” In season 2 of the show, 2 people pursue love and will do anything to get the person they want. Although they genuinely believe they are acting out of love for someone else, at the end of the day, they perform extreme actions to get what they want.
For an author like Kant, who is a human by the way, it is easy to argue for reason and how they lead to the moral values we have. His argument about moral laws being products of rational reasoning makes sense for all of us as we have grown up being taught about some common values and certain behaviors that we should abide by. However, it is not obvious to me that there is just one kind of reasoning in this universe. I think Kant is ignoring the fact that there is a wild difference between different forms of reasoning.
An example of a wildly different form of reasoning can be realized in an artificial intelligence medium. While it is possible for us to create AI models that think like us and follow the same rules as we do, this is merely imposing our cultural biases and prejudices onto these models and making them think like us. Extensive research has shown that, in reality, we don’t understand an AI model’s logic for decision-making. When visualized, we have seen that AI models can arrive at similar conclusions as humans in certain scenarios (like diagnosing tumors from CT scans of the brain). However, they are able to do so with a significantly different methodology compared to what human doctors to by focusing on key aspects differing from those used by humans. So, if AI models’ way of reasoning is different to ours, we should also expect them to arrive at different conclusions on what’s right and what’s wrong and build different moral values.
The part about Machine Ethics is relevant in the following page:
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.
Kant believes that happiness is the satisfaction of all desires. And, virtue is the capacity to act morally. Also, reason (and duty) has priority over desires. Finally, highest good subordinates happiness to virtue.
I believe it is true that happiness is the satisfaction of all desires. I believe once a person has their desires fulfilled, they are still not happy. Because most people desire for more. I love this song by J. Cole because he talks about happiness and desires. He talks in the song how there is always going to be a better car, a bigger house, and better things. But, a person can’t be happy until they appreciate the things they have and the relationships they have formed.
I don’t think people are born with good moral standards. I think they formed by the environment people grow up in. I think good moral standards are just as important as happiness. Good moral standards enable you to maintain relationships with others. Good moral standards means a person wouldn’t wrong another person, which would help others have more trust in that person. More trust would result in a better relationship which would result in more happiness.
Side note: I think if someone feels that they are not enlightened. I think this is not because they are lazy, instead I think this is the case because they are not distracted. They haven’t taken the time to step away from all the distractions and think.
It is pretty fun to see someone who are not as “rational” or “realistic” as people from past hundred years. Especially people like Hume, Locke, even Machiavelli. These people are more realistic. Their focus of the world, the society, or the way people should interact with each other are much more based on a realism perspective. This means that their opinions are more established with consequences and foundation principle.
Then Kant appears with his idea of morality and metaphysics. These ideas are not totally novel. When churches are still dominating the European land, seeing ideas and studies of the metaphysics and morality are very common. However, Kant appears in the time period where people are gradually becoming secular and more interested in consequence rather than the intention behind the consequence. One can argue that this recurrence in the study of metaphysics and morality represents a sign, a sign that marks the inner division of the Enlightenment movement.
But coming into a modern perspective, I do believe that Kant’s idea of “intention is more important than the result” is much more applicable to today’s world and there are indeed enough space for us to think about out intention that prompts us to make our decision.
Finally, here is a meme picture I found on internet that I find to be unexpectedly inspirational. Hope this picture can make your day.
A concept redefined through Kant’s literature is the notion of love, and how his conception of duty and knowledge of Christian scripture informs his consideration towards love. According to Kant, love is regarded as a good will for others that is validated through one’s own acts as opposed to emotional indicators. Additionally, love is understood as some charity from “duty”, another charged word within Kant’s rhetoric which can be defined as one’s actions which are motivated by some good will rather than by some desire for a consequence of fulfilling one’s duty.
The reason for my fascination with Kant’s interpretation of love is because of its spiritual complexity as well as its reflection of the effort to appropriate an objective, scientific framework to a subjective realm like love.
Aside from obviously referencing the bible at the beginning of his description of love, Kant further illustrates how love ought not to be regarded as a mere emotion, but as a spiritual experience. With regards to the Christian implications contained within Kant’s work, I look to his use of the word “beneficence” when describing love as a “beneficence” of duty. This word is often synonymous to charity, which reveals a clear connection to the book of Corinthians, where love is understood as “agape”, a word for love that also denotes the meaning of charity. With this understanding, a contradiction from Enlightenment tendencies is revealed: despite a general aberration from the spiritual, Kant is both explicit and referential about and to Christian scriptures, incorporating a spiritual understanding to love.
When assessing how well Kant’s definition of love lines up to Enlightenment ideals, a simultaneous tension and attempted reconciliation can be recognized in his attempts to make love an enlightened experience. First, the tension is revealed in the inherent incompatibility between spirituality and the rationalist framework which pervades the Enlightenment era. Secondly, and more importantly, the reconciliation can be found within the facets that Kant attaches to love as a means to establish its place within Enlightenment sentiments. This is apparent in Kant’s description of how love behaves: “it lies in the will and not in the propensity of feeling, in principles of action and not in melting sympathy; it not alone can be commanded” (Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, pg. 55). This passage reveals a connection between Enlightenment ideology and love due to way in which love is equated to observable data: Kant claims that love must be realized through willful action as opposed to a consequence of emotional vehement that often exists outside of complete, human control. By presenting love as an activity which must be observable and free from the irrationalities of emotional whims, Kant exhibits an effort to make love a force which complements Enlightenment ideals of controlled, empirical observation.
From my perspective, no form of media better express a successful union of love and science than music. My justification for choosing music is its balanced quality of simulating a dynamic experience within the rigid confines of musical notation. In attempting to quantify the complexity of human emotion through the construction of organized sound, music becomes instrumental in identifying a middle ground for emotions–like love–and science. In specific, I will be assessing Leo Delibes’ opera Lakmé, specifically the song “Viens, Mallika”, which is more popularly known as “The Flower Duet”. For contextualization, “Viens, Mallika” was written for two characters, Lakmé and Mallika, who express their filial love for each other as they revel in the beauty of the edenic environment surrounding them.
This love song, when considered under a Kantian lens, reveals how the confluence of Enlightenment thought with the subjective arena of musical experience produces a nexus of art that justifies the compatibility of love with science. While expressed through music, which is up to subjective interpretation, the performance itself is grounded by the presence of the sheet music: a compendium of harmonies, notes, and keys which contribute to an organized “language” of music. In this way, the representation of love becomes realized through music, acting as an intermediary, which is methodically grounded by a logical, arbitrary–and therefore scientific–symbology. Furthermore, being able to perceive two characters emote their love for each other, if one is willing to suspend their disbelief, shows another point of application for this song to Kant’s philosophy: in actually seeing people act on their love through song, the Enlightenment ideal of observability is acknowledge and fulfilled. By utilizing a Kantian lens to assess the Delibes’ Lakmé, an opera which explores themes of romantic and platonic affection, we see how music can become a vessel for love to inhabit so it may be re-evaluated through a more scientific framework.
In answering what “enlightenment” is, Kant claims that it is to think for and only for yourself and for no one else. In order to be “enlightened”, one must only consider their own feelings and disregard the feelings of others. For example, if someone were to make a large decision that would impact not only themselves but others around them, they should disregard everyone else and only think about what the impact will be on themself. This is interesting as most would see this as selfish or inconsiderate while Kant finds this to be freeing. This begs the question: Is thinking solely for oneself a selfish act or self-enlightening?
This philosophy can be seen today as birth rates are steadily declining and one of the major reasons for the decline is due to the cost and time of raising a child increasing. This has led to many would-be parents to choose not to have a child as it not only saves them a ton of time, but money and stress as well. The cost of raising a child has increased over the years as the cost of living and health insurance steadily increases while support systems such as parental leave continues to decline. However, many parents desire grandchildren for personal reasons and also to continue the lineage. If one refuses to have a child for financial and freedom reasons, would it be an act of selfishness to their parents or enlightenment to themselves?
In the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant states that there is an unconditional good where people are intrinsically good without any intentions of power, intelligence, fortune, etc. He claims that the specific obligations of a good will are called duties, in which he makes three propositions about them. The second proposition is interesting because he states that “an action from duty has its moral worth not in the purpose to be attained by it but in the maxim in accordance with which it is decided upon”. This means that one should fulfill his or her duties because of the principle of volition where people fulfill a duty without any regard for objects or desires. However, if one expects a particular result or is driven by some external motivation other than the duty, it violates this good will. Therefore, people should only act upon a duty without regard for the benefits or consequences the action may bring upon them to be considered an unconditionally good driven duty.
In a Facebook video I found, there’s a man who finds a beaver with a stick about five times its size preparing to walk across the street. The man recognizes that this beaver is probably trying to build a dam in the middle of the night and decides to leave his car and help the beaver carry the stick across the street. This man is acting out of a sense of duty in which he understands that he should help innocent animals despite the fact that he will not gain anything directly from the beaver. On the other hand, he could fulfill his duty driven from an external motivation in which he knows he will go viral on Facebook for this act of kindness. Considering both sides, I would argue that he is fulfilling his duty out of an intrinsically good will by the second proposition Kant states in which he is doing it for its moral worth and not because of any material principle.
One aspect of Kant’s philosophy discusses the freedom to make public use of one’s reason in all matters.The path to enlightenment requires that one expresses oneself and allows others to express themselves freely. Kant uses multiple authority figures, ranging from an officer to a ruler, as examples of those who use their power to place many restrictions on individuals. These restrictions all come down to Don’t argue! and Obey!, which prevents one’s ability to gain enlightenment. Kant then goes on to assert that humans must freely reason with other humans to promote enlightenment, and very few restrictions may be placed on private reasoning so that enlightenment may not be hindered.
This philosophy interests me as someone who grew up feeling like they didn’t have a voice. I had been told on multiple occasions that it was never because I didn’t have much to say (which was something I believed was the case for a long time). Instead, it was the opposite; the few people I take the time to talk to on a regular basis know that I could go on about interesting topics that I have researched, and I would be more than willing to debate about them in order to gain a new understanding of that particular topic. The problem lies in the many adults in my life, and many other young adults’ lives, who belittle our opinions and cast them aside simply because they believe us to be “ignorant” or “too young” to say anything meaningful. This phenomenon is delved into by Isabel Song, now a UC Berkeley alumni, who talks about her own frustration with the issue.
The adults in the world who refuse to listen to younger generations despite the fact that they are more than capable of holding productive, mature, and enlightening conversations are (according to Kant’s philosophy) “cowardice”, “immature”, and averse to becoming enlightened themselves.
Kant’s philosophy that enlightenment is intricately connected to freedom to reason and courage to present one’s ideas is a very interesting concept. In fact, he equates laziness and a lack of courage to “immaturity” that prevents one from being enlightened. In particular, he claims that this freedom is especially important when addressing society as a whole rather than a specific audience (public), as this can lead to the enlightenment of the public. However, he later claims that freedom for the private use of reason should be restricted because one must obey their superiors at their job as well as the laws of government, or else society itself would fall apart. So overall, freedom only applies when it furthers enlightenment (public use of reason) compared to when it hinders it (private use of reason). That being said, a ruler should embrace the freedom of reason and opinions of his or her subjects to further the enlightenment of humanity. I find his opinion understandable, but do not entirely agree because I believe in certain cases, revolution is quite necessary for the enlightenment Kant speaks of. For example, the American revolution that freed the United States from British control presented many of the values (including liberty) that, over time and refinement, progressed our society to the point it is at now.
Recently, the Kenyan president, Daniel Arap Moi, passed away. Some remembered him as a kind leader who helped kids pay school fees and cared about the common man. Others saw him as ruthless toward those who did not fall in line. The latter includes Reverend Timothy Njoya, a retired Presbyterian Church of East Africa Minister. He accounts how he argued with Moi’s policy of single party rule over democracy and protested on the streets. He also urged people toward civil disobedience to force the government to rectify the constitution. Violence ensued as he was beaten by President Moi’s men for his activism. One may believe that Kant would support Njoya’s actions since he preaches freedom. However, it is likely that Kant may not support Njoya’s actions as he also preaches civil disobedience and Kant believes people have a duty to obey the government even given freedom. How about you? Do you think freedom should be restricted when it comes to obeying the government?
Kant brings about the topic of “moral law.” He reasons that the morality of an action is good based on its intrinsic values; those actions cannot have any root in anything evil. For a long time, politicians have given many promises and cannot come through with all of them. It is honestly tough, as there are many checks and balances as to what a single politician can do. Would those promises violate Kant’s moral law? It’s also a matter of perspective as to what is evil and just.
This site tracks the promises of recent and current presidents. Many presidents fail to uphold their promises and even try to stall for more time. This “problem” has been going on for a long time. It’s understandable why they do so: to get more possible voters and pander to their emotional side. Would Kant’s perspective affect future votes and indirectly those promises?
Kant makes the following remark on the purpose of reason: “For since reason is not sufficiently serviceable for guiding the will safely as regards its objects and the satisfaction of all our needs…its (reason’s) true function must be to produce a will which is good, not as a means to some further end”. According to this Kant perceives reason as a mean to produce good will, the unconditional good that ensure morals. His reasoning can be summarized as follow:1.Everything in nature work in a purposive manner. 2.It is not a purpose for reason to create a will satisfying all our needs. 3.Reason has influence on our will. With premise 1 and that reason exists, one derives that reason has a purpose. Given this and premise 2, 3, one may concludes that reason purposefully influence our will, but not for satisfying our needs. Kant claims that this purpose of reason is to produce good will. However premise 1 could be problematic, and if one is to follow Hume’s view of knowledge, that one ought to proportion trust in claims according to the strength of evidence, then 1 is clearly flawed. Despite how many things we have studied, we can only find purposes in finite number of things, never enough evidence to justify a claim infinite. If 1 is to limited to a number of things in nature, excluding reason, then the argument would not be valid. Alternatively we may simply define will guided solely by reason, free from inclination, as good will, although this will make the idea of a good will irreverent to experiences or common sense, for reason is considered a prior by Kant.
Under Kant’s definition of good will Abraham making attempt on Issac’s life is certainly not an act with good will, and hence an immoral act. Abraham’s act is unreasonable: he cannot provide a reason to others why he would try to kill his son, and in the end all he show through the event is obedience without using one’s own capacity to reason, effectively prevent any possibility for good will. Was there any reasoning for the universal which Abraham could use to justify his act, he should be able to communicate it to others, for reason is the same to all human. Would Abraham use reason to judge his action, he must see that one should not kill another person, for this cannot be an universal law: if everyone is to kill another person, there would be no human left to kill or to be killed.
Kant’s discussion and theory of where “goodness” comes from in a world with rationalism and reason is interesting to me as it can be seen in all parts of our everyday lives. Everybody has interacted or have been friends with people who are “good” people with “good” hearts, but what Kant discusses is where “goodness” comes from. Kant argues that the only thing that is good in and of itself in this world is the Good Will. The Good Will is made up of a person’s free will motivated by reason, ultimately choosing its moral duty.
Someone who I believe embodies Kant’s Good Will theory is Greta Thunberg. Like all of us, Greta was born with the ability to have free will and the ability to reason and make her own opinions and thoughts. By motivating her free will by climate change awareness, her actions speak volumes for her passion and dedication to the topic. To be an advocate of this topic, however, Greta has to fight against those who oppose her movement and words (specifically big-name politicians and companies who are threatened by her growing movement), and thus her “goodness” is subject to who is seeing it. For me, as someone who is passionate about sustainability and climate change awareness, I am in awe of Greta. But if I was a company being attacked for using fossil fuels, I wouldn’t view her in the same light.
Here is an example of an adult feeling threatened by a 16-year-old’s Good Will.
One of the ideas that Kant has is that morality is universal. He comes to this conclusion because he believes that the concept of reason is universal to all men and therefore morality can be derived from just thinking about it. I find this interesting because according to this school of thought everyone should value the same things and have similar if not the same thought processes. If that was true, then there would be nobody to disagree with this process of thinking, which was obviously not the case at the time.
But in today’s western world, we have moved away from the idea that everyone should find value the same things, and moved to a holistic view of morality. Now, we understand the your environment influences your idea from morality. Every culture places an emphasis on different things that are important, therefore different places/cultures would come to have a different set of morals. We have moved away from the idea that morality is a single way of thinking and if they do not follow this universal way then they should be shamed. Instead, we have more understanding for the differences that arise due to cultural differences. The link below explores the idea of how worldview and social groups affect one’s set of morals.