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Paper Topic:


Running Header : Ethical Theories

Title : Originality and Uniqueness of Immanuel Kant ethical theory





Of all the deontologist philosophers , Immanuel Kant is perhaps one of the most important and famous of modern times . His contributions to philosophical thinking cannot be underestimated . His ethical theories have formed the backbone for modern ethical theories . This brand of philosophers argues that the basis of morality in any society is engraved in the rules that the society has set to govern its activities In a summary , his ethical theory

affirms that right actions are those that practical reason would will as universal law (Davison , 2006 . In simpler terms , Kant wanted to mean that ethical choices are those courses of action that can be willed upon everybody . For example , if by legislation a rule is passed that nobody should answer phones at hospitals , and everybody is willed upon to accept the rule , then such a rule becomes an ethical choice . Before Kant , there were others philosophers who had contributed immensely towards previous ethical theories . Below I attempt to explain some of the criticism leveled to previous ethical theories by Kant

Criticism of previous ethical theories

It can be correctly said that ethical theories originated from Greek philosophers , specifically Plato , Socrates , and Aristotle . The above philosophers held the view that virtue was the key ingredient to morality (Davison , 2006 . Having compiled a set of virtues , they argued that ethically correct decisions were those that adhered to the listed values . But Kant criticized the listing of moral virtues as a measurement of moral standards . To him , the concept of ethics in correlation with virtue seemed not to work . To utilize virtue as a way of decision making , Kant felt that the principle of virtue must therefore be exclusively contained inside us

The concept of Autonomy and Heteronomy

To expound on his criticism of previous ethical theories , Kant made use of the concept of autonomy and heteronomy . When one is able to act out of his very own will without giving weight to any outside influence then he can be said to be acting in autonomy . For example , when you get hungry , your very own thoughts tell you that it is time to eat . Such an action is relayed without any external influence and thus it could be said to be autonomous . It can be distinguished from the heteronomy in that the latter involves entering into ethical decisions and choices that are bound by outside influence (Davison , 2006 . For example , you could be feeling hungry but you are bound by company policies to wait until lunch break to go and eat . The action of waiting till the appropriate time comes can be said to be heteronymous

According to Kant , a heteronymous will is any action that obeys the rules that have been passed outwardly of such an action . Such a will is dependent upon some other rules . As such , the standards of its actions will always be hypothetical imperatives ' because it acts in such a...

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