Groundwork By John Kant

1090 Words5 Pages
In Groundwork, Kant explores in the first section the belief that we are destined to follow the categorical imperative. He described it as universal principle we must always abide by. In other words, it is the idea that rules have no exceptions whatsoever. He analyzes rational and philosophical notions of that absolute good where he then reaches his conception of what he calls the Categorical Imperative, or the moral law. The moral law does not depend on a particular circumstance or situation. For example, you do not help someone to get something in return later, you help them no matter what the situation or no matter what your desires are. His claim is that everybody assumes that they fall subject to the Categorical Imperative. This means…show more content…
Kant starts from this idea because he believes that this is what common sense accepts so after he reflected he said that this is the only thing on which everyone will agree on. The idea, as Kant defines it, is that what makes a person good is the fact that he has a will. In other words, a person’s will is determined by the extent to which the person makes their decisions based on the Categorical Imperative. This person, with a good will, ought to make their decisions not because they lead to a perceived good end but because they are simply good in themselves, they are independent of external impacts. Kant says that good will has something to do with duty. He compares actions from duty and actions in conformity with duty to finally come to the conclusion that an act done from duty is an act done for the respect of the law and for the conformity to the Categorical…show more content…
The utilitarian approach says that the way to decide what the right thing to do is, in any situation, is to ask what will maximize happiness. Kant rejects this because it challenges morality. Just because something gives the most number of people happiness doesn’t mean that it is right. Making someone happy is different than making this person good. One can reach happiness without being moral or “good”. For Kant, happiness is conditionally good, meaning it’s good only if it is practiced virtuously. However, one should not act virtuously in order to be happy. Basing himself on this definition of happiness, he argues that it is impossible for everyone to be happy because people might have different wants. What I want might stop someone else from getting what they want. Generating a good will confines the realization of happiness. Also, it is hard for a person to determine exactly what they want. We might think we want something that will make us happy when in reality it might make us unhappy. For example, someone thinks that increasing his knowledge will make him happy but increasing knowledge is also increasing sorrow. In addition, Kant argues that we can only know what makes us happy through experience. So, reaching happiness cannot serve as a motive to decide what to do in a given situation because it is too indefinite and too based on
Get Access