Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Immanuel Kant rejects that happiness can be a healthy ground for moral actions. He asserts that empirical concepts cannot be the foundation for moral laws. He adds that universal validity of moral laws for all thinking beings is not derivative from a specific tendency of human nature. Of all things, he disagrees against the concept that one’s own happiness can serve as basis of morality. He denies this probability since well-being is not consistently commensurate to virtuous behavior. He finds it hard for a man to be happy just by becoming good. Most importantly, he rejects happiness as the principle of morality because it blurs the particular difference between virtue and vices.
The possibility and necessity to differentiate virtues and vices by category rests on showing how Kant argues that one must be under a moral law. For Kant, the moral agent puts inclinations and desires under reason. As an outcome of being a subject to such a law, actions must be categorized based on their fullness or lack of worth. For Kant, being happy cannot be substituted for morality for virtue does not exist in it. The idea of happiness cannot be a source of the idea of the supreme good. If happiness was the end of a human, nature would have been inconsistent, since happiness could be achieved better through instinct rather than by feeble insight of reason. In his synthesis of virtue, Kant portrays inclinations as the basic opponent of moral disposition. According to him, virtue is fortitude or the capacity to endure a vigorous yet unfair enemy such as inclination.
The appropriate task of reason for Kant is to generate the highest good which cannot be happiness. In truth, the development of the reason of yielding the highest good will male happiness less than nothing. For Kant, the highest good is unconditional, something that cannot be conditioned in time being. Reason may be used to serve inclination as a function of the will, but this is a lesser function and cannot approximate the ultimate principle of morality. It only shows a conditional worth.
Kant argues that a moral theory cannot be based on conditionality. He points out that lacking the principle of an unqualified good, emotions and passions, self-control, among others can e corrupted by the dialectic of reason, which is a process that happens in the thinking when the law of duty appears to contrast the inclination to perform the opposite. Reason essentially thinks how to go against the laws of duty to harmonize them with inclinations. Man feels within a strong contradiction to go against all commands of duty which reason shows as respect-worthy. This contradiction is man’s needs and inclinations, the consummate gratification known otherwise as happiness.
Kant asserts that the dialectic of reason corrupts the laws of duty in their grounds to ruin their dignity. To avoid the dialectic of reason from working as the basis of morality, Kant formulates the idea of the good will as analytically the source of the idea of the unconditional good. To attain the level of a good will, the human will must be defined by a moral law. Lacking that law, the will would work depending on the dialectic of reason. The will would be an exhibition of accordance to inclinations devoid of the unconditional law to control it. Kant says that the principle of the moral law possesses the trait of universality and the categorical imperative.
The hypothetical imperative that is Kant’s idea of end is not happiness. The hypothetical imperative regulate behavior to accord the ends set before by inclinations. The maxims which are the principles shown in action toward happiness are empirical and, thus, they contain moral worth that are nothing but conditional. Nonetheless, Kant claims that happiness as a universal end cannot serve as a ground for morality. This is because the determining basis of goodness or evil in the search for happiness can never be universally good or evil. For Kant, something good is that which is moral. Actions that are solely morally good possess moral worth. The maxim of those actions is formal since a desired end is not the objective. Kant formulates the idea of duty to manifest that one acts from duty because one respects the law. One must respect the moral law by acting from duty for one’s action to be morally worthy inherently.
For Kant, the contrast between virtue and vice is the trait of moral worth which is pursued only in the definition of the maxim as a respect for the law. Kant shows that the disposition of manifesting good management is not the reduction of one nor the augmentation of the other. Instead, vices have their separate maxims that cannot be equated with virtues. Lastly, Kant asserts that ethical duties must not be approximated depending on the capability of a man in fulfilling the law. The law with categorical commands defines the moral capacity of an individual. Kant practices his belief that ethical duties taken from the knowledge of the empirical activities must be subjected to the rationality of the expected. Therefore, no moral worth can be deduced from an action grounded on love because there can be nothing like extents of moral worth. Either the action which is defined by the universal law is a duty or not.
For Kant, the need to submit to law is an effect of the relationship of worldview of reasons to a world populated by natural laws. Reason is freed from the property of natural need which belongs to the causality of irrational organisms, so rational beings are liberated. In short, each rational being whose behavior is defined by a will acts only according with the notion of freedom. The idea of choice obviously shows that reason defines itself, thus, reason must take itself as the author of its concepts, isolated from external influences.
When Kant puts forth that freedom is assumed in the simple knowledge of the moral law, he makes a demarcation between the intelligible world from the determining causes of the sensible world. He supports this relationship through the concept of autonomy. A rational being can separate the laws of freedom from those of nature by assuming that the laws of freedom are self-imposed. The causal action of the human will in contrast with the causality of the sensible world must happen depending on self-imposed laws. It is important to touch on the principle of autonomy to suggest that it can be the ultimate principle of morality. This can be manifested by an analysis of the notions of morality. Through such an analysis, the principle must be a categorical imperative and this imperative commands this autonomy. Hence, moral actions are shown only by this principle. Actions have moral worth only when done out of duty because otherwise, no recognition of duty, no respect for the law and no moral responsibility exist.
Kant does not mean to rob humans of the need for happiness. He only intends to show that happiness as a basis for moral behavior is only a product of the imagination. No imperative, strictly speaking, commands man to do what amounts to happiness, since happiness is an ideal of imagination and not of reason, according only on empirical foundations which man would expect futilely to define an action by which the entirety of consequences—something that is infinite—may be attained. Kant asserts that determining unmistakably and universally that action which promotes happiness of a rational being is improbable since a person can never constantly declare his inclinations without hesitating, being confused or being divided.
Nevertheless, Kant believes that happiness partly composes the highest good but only when it is commensurate to morality. He argues that the highest good is a mixture of happiness and morality which cannot be recognized analytically. For Kant, the goal of happiness will in the end corrupt human innocence so this goal necessitates a sense of moral development. It is best to see Kant’s proposition that one deserves happiness instead of being motivated to be happy.