Eric Massengill's Ethics Class Blog

Kant’s Rationality | November 10, 2008

Kant’s theory of morals is dependent entirely upon human rationality, and I think it the most appealing thing about his conception. He concieves morality as a selve-evident concept, a basic property of the universe. And of course to see this, once has to be capable of thinking rationally. It also ties in deeper with his conception of laws: if only rational beings can percieve morality, only rational being can act on morality; only rational beings can be moral, thus: the only universal thing is a Good Will.

Kant’s uses Natural Law, essentially saying that the universe is rational, we are rationally constructed, our faculties have purposes, and we should act towards those purposes or else we’re being irrational, and thus going against the order of the universe. Rationallity is his whole justification for why the universe somehow mandates that we act a certain way, and so all of the justifications for “laws” of morality have to be centered around rationality. If they’re justified in any other way, they: a) do not follow a rational structure, and so the theory of a rational universe becomes weaker; b) they cannot be immediately and (possibly) rationally recognized, being based on irrational motives, which weakens Kant’s idea of a Good Will.

If a Good Will is acting as a rational being, and it is the only universally good thing, then morality have to be things that only a rational being can enact, otherwise things besides a Good Will can be used to act morally (I think he would say this against Mill, that Mill is allowing animals to be agents of morality). Thus, all rules of morality have to be recognizable by rational thought, otherwise it cuts the Good Will out of the loop, or at least delegates it to a shared possition.

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I am a person. I am alive. I am capable of mechanical motion. My respiratory system is functional, as is my digestive, and circulatory system. My neurons operate.

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