Unformatted text preview: only the good will, then, like a jewel, it would still shine by its own light, as a thing which has value in itself”
Whoa, think that’s true?? In other words, there is a fairly serious (ethical) In other words, there is a fairly serious (ethical) emphasis put on your intentions when you act.
As we’ll see with the utilitarians, some people only really care about the consequences. But Kant is more like the opposite: interested in your intentions, not in what it is you actually do.
Think of the difference between first degree murder and manslaughter—sometimes we think intentions matter. Kant thinks they matter all the time. Another interesting point, which goes along Another interesting point, which goes along with the stuff about intentions and a good will, but which is NOT in the text, is that Kant thinks that you have to have a particular kind of motive to your action in order for it to be good (regardless of, say, its consequences).
He thinks that you have to act out of a sense of duty for your action to have moral worth. If you do it, on the other hand, because you want people to like you, then your action has no moral worth. Doing your duty FOR duty’s sake is thus what Doing your duty FOR duty’s sake is thus what matters. For example:
“I don’t cheat because I don’t want to get caught !”
That’s not good enough. You do the right thing (don’t cheat), but not for the right reason.
“I don’t cheat because it is wrong for me to cheat ”
That’s what Kant says should be the motivation for our moral actions. That’s interesting, I guess, but it starts That’s interesting, I guess, but it starts getting much harder very quickly!
We’ll start with this: Kant think that persons are important because they are rational. Kant says of being rational:
Kant says of being rational:
“rational nature is distinguished from the rest of nature by this: that it sets before itself an end”
In other words, persons are important because they can think about things they want (ends) and, critically, that fact implies that they can think about whether they’re worth having and how to get them. It’s not that we’ll always get rid of every It’s not that we’ll always get rid of every desire/want/end we have (e.g., our desire not to die), but it is important that we are aware of our desires.
This awareness, and the ability to think a...
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- Fall '08