The Appraisal of Moral Worth: Kant Versus Nagel
Since the moment we were born, our minds have been absorbing information and relaying that information into choices that subsequently dictate our life. Out of these choices, we face the dilemma of personal gain versus morality. It is in the best interests of all humanity that each individual shares similar values, such as trust, compassion, loyalty, and a desire for communal progress. When individuals share such values, it allows a society to build upon the accomplishments of its people and fight natural obstacles that are intrinsic to our world (predators, famine, illnesses, etc.). It has been taught in our contemporary culture, by the morals instilled into us by our parents and peers,…show more content…
The first student, conscious of their inability to properly drive a vehicle, decides to call a taxi and makes it home safely and without causing, or intending, harm. The second student, who is equally as intoxicated but lacks proper ethics, decides to drive home. Fortunately for this student, they make it safely home without causing anyone harm. However, suppose the third student attempts to drive home as well but, along the way, strikes a pedestrian with their vehicle and subsequently kills them. Is the second driver, who also chose to drive home drunk but did so without crashing, just as morally worthy as the first student? If not, are they as ethically impaired as the third driver who, although unintentionally, ended up killing someone? Kant would reason that both the second and third student share equally poor ethics. Furthermore, the first student had wholesome intentions that reflect the wants of the entire community (to have streets full of competent and sober drivers), and is thus the only morally “good” student. An individual is only morally righteous when they act with the correct motives.
The utilitarian perspective on morality argues that moral value is determined through an inspection of the impact of one’s actions. For example, if you bought flowers for someone you were attracted to, and it turned out they were deathly allergic to those flowers, then their death would have a negative impact on your moral standing.