What Is the Significance of Kants Insistence on the Motive of Duty

2624 Words Jan 27th, 2012 11 Pages
What is the significance of Kant’s insistence on the motive of duty?

A common question, which is perhaps considered to be one of the most important questions within ethical discussion, centres around what morality can and does require from us. Kant’s contentious contribution to this debate begins with his argument that the most basic aim of moral philosophy is “to seek out” the foundational principle of a metaphysics of morals, and we can see him pursue this initially through the Groundwork. Within the Groundwork he aims to “establish the supreme principle of morality” (G392), and it is in his method of doing this that we first encounter the notion and importance of Duty. Kant’s general argument claims that only acts that are done from
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Therefore the supreme principle states that we should only act from the sole motive of duty and out of respect for the moral law, and that our action should be available for everyone to also follow.
Kant’s position on duty has drawn much attention from critics and supporters alike. When looking at the significance of duty within Kant’s theory, it is necessary to consider the implications which it has on our ethical behaviour. It at first appears that Kant’s theory is one which is particularly cold, as it dismisses the idea of any inclinations having moral worth. Therefore when trying to decide how to conduct ourselves morally, we should aim to ignore feeling such as sympathy, which we in practise place high moral value on, and just focus on the restricting quality of duty. Herman argued that the theory was “troubling as it judges a grudging or resentfully performed dutiful act
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