CC_2_-_Paper_1 - MacLeod 1 Inclination and Duty in Relation...

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Inclination and Duty in Relation to the Morality of Actions “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” (Groundwork 13). In the above statement, Kant introduces his argument that the morality of an action is not determined by the effects of the action, but by the motives for such an action. In order for an action to be considered moral, the motives must not take into account the results of the action, whether the results be personal satisfaction or personal profit. If one derives pleasure from an action, even if it was performed in accordance with duty, the action cannot merit moral content. Though somewhat counterintuitive, Kant’s argument is based on the idea that duty cannot be proven as the motive if one experiences any satisfaction from performing an action, since one cannot isolate the two motives. In order to illustrate his point, Kant employs several hypothetical examples which clearly separate and define the possible motives and effects of actions. Kant argues as such in order to prove morality is accessible to all; if the morality of an action was determined by the role of inclinations or sentiments either in the motive or the effect, those unfortunate enough to be born lacking proper sentiments would be not be capable of achieving morality. Thus, reason is common to all humans and can be employed to determine one’s duty in any circumstance, regardless of societal influences. In that respect, Kant’s arguments seem plausible. However, upon closer inspection, especially in light of the unfeasible nature of his provided examples, Kant’s arguments seem too abstract to hold any practical use in society itself. To begin, Kant establishes that one must be able to isolate the motive in order to determine the morality of the action, as the “moral worth of an action…does not lie in any principle of action that needs to borrow its motive from this expected effect” (Groundwork 14). When one acts a certain way in anticipation of a specific result, the action cannot be considered
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CC_2_-_Paper_1 - MacLeod 1 Inclination and Duty in Relation...

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