Kant’s Ethics of Principle

Kant’s Ethics of Principle

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            One of the primary proponents of deontological ethics is Immanuel Kant. This type of ethics is defined as the study of duty (Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Kant’s ethics of principle clearly explains this ethical theory in his famous quote, “So will such that the maxim of your will could become a universal law for all men” (Encyclopedia of Philosophy). In this theory, one’s intentions are the bases of one’s actions and judgment. As has been clarified by Kant, the consequences of one’s actions, decisions and judgments are insignificant. What matters is the intention beneath the action or decision one does. In Kant’s saying, the good should be qualified by asking one’s self, “What if everyone did what I am doing?” The answers that come out of this questions then gives a good criteria if one’s will is good. If your actions are mirrored by everyone else around you throughout the world, would you like the world you’ve created? If so, then, you have good judgment. 

            I agree with Kant’s theory, that motive or intention is important in one’s decisions and judgment. One cannot evaluate an action as a bad action just because the results of that action went bad. Thus, it is unreliable to base one’s judgment on results since consequences of a particular action are unpredictable. It can happen that you have morally good intentions for doing that action but the results you get upon executing that action are disastrous. One cannot predict the future. For example, a doctor prescribes a certain medicine to a patient and he knows and has proven that the medicine is significantly effective. However, upon taking the medicine, the patient gets sick and experiences an allergic reaction and the patient actually doesn’t know he has an allergic reaction to this kind of drug. We cannot say that the doctor is bad or that his action is wrong since in the first place, the doctor’s intention is based primarily on his duty as a doctor and that is to help the sick.

            Kant’s ethics of principle is a very valuable work in the field of philosophy. It gives the society a good set of ethical standards that are practically useful in the definition of morality.


The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), Metaphysics. Retrieved April 26, 2008 from http://www.iep.utm.edu/k/kantmeta.htm