In this way, Hegel claimed to have overcome one great problem that was insoluble for Kant. Hegel would have replied that because the organic community is based on universally valid principles of reason, it complies with Kant’s principle of universal law. The theory, developed as a result of Enlightenment rationalism, is based on the view that the only intrinsically good thing is a good will; an action can only be good if its maxim – the principle behind it – is duty to the moral law. This occurred as a result of the Reformation, with its insistence on the right of individual conscience. But to condemn slavery one needs only to give equal weight to the interests of slaves, as utilitarians such as Bentham explicitly did. Kant talked about freedom not as a universal law set in concrete, but instead as something of one’s own making. Murder is wrong even in the case of self-defense. In The Philosophy of Right (1821), Hegel described how this synthesis could be achieved in an organic community. If you violated the commandments, you'd be punished. Thus, Hegel accepts Schiller’s view that for the ancient Greeks, reason and feeling were in harmony, but he sees this as a naive harmony that could exist only as long as the Greeks did not see themselves as free individuals with a conscience independent of the views of the community. Saying that people should do their duty from a sense of duty is easy—but how are we supposed to know what our duty is? Stoics and Moral Philosophy - The 8 Principles of Stoicism, Summary and Analysis of Plato's 'Euthyphro', Ph.D., Philosophy, The University of Texas at Austin, B.A., Philosophy, University of Sheffield. This is even more obvious if I steal from you or kidnap you in order to claim a ransom. Kant derives a test to determine a categorical imperative. Kant holds that our moral duties are driven by categorical imperatives. The organic community would foster those desires by which it would be most benefited. But that’s not how the majority of people would see the situation. Modern Kantians hold that it does, because they interpret it as denying the legitimacy of sacrificing the rights of one human being in order to benefit others. In Hegel’s organic community, the content of one’s moral duty would be determined by one’s position in society. In one essay Kant went so far as to say that it would be wrong for a person to tell a lie even to a would-be murderer who came to his house seeking to kill an innocent person hidden inside. In, An ethical dilemma (ethical paradox or moral dilemma) is a problem in the decision-making process between two possible options, neither of, Ethical vs. legal standards: what's the difference? This is commonly referred to as the “ends principle.” While similar in a way to the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," it puts the onus for following the rule on humankind rather than accepting the strictures of divine influence. Harmony would thus prevail, but not the naive harmony of ancient Greece. The robust health of a bully makes it easier for him to abuse his victims. At one point Kant appeared to take a different line. When one acts in accordance with her desires or intuition, she is simply acting to satisfy a necessity. Or less dramatically, I pay back a friendly loan as promised even though payday isn't for another week and doing so will leave me temporarily short of cash. As a result, any sensible person brought up in such a faith would abide by the moral rules their religion taught. This is where he introduces the idea of respect being essential to humanity, which is different from sentiments like love, sympathy, or altruism. For Kant, morality was not a matter of subjective whim set forth in the name of god or religion or law based on the principles ordained by the earthly spokespeople of those gods. He called any action based on desires a hypothetical imperative , meaning by this that it is a command of reason that applies only if one desires the goal in question. To live ethically, one must never treat another human being as a means to some greater end. For instance, suppose I’m thinking of breaking a promise. Much of the time, we're simply following our inclinations—or acting out of self-interest. It would imbue its members with the sense that their own identity consists in being a part of the community, so that they would no more think of going off in pursuit of their own private interests than one’s left arm would think of going off without the rest of the body. Moreover, whatever is demanded by reason must be demanded of all rational beings; hence, rational action cannot be based on an individual’s personal desires but must be action in accordance with something that he can will to be a universal law. In Kant’s view, the basic problem with utilitarianism is that it judges actions by their consequences. Another version of the Categorical Imperative that Kant offers states that one should “always treat people as ends in themselves, never merely as a means to one’s own ends." As Hegel presents it, all of history is the progress of mind, or spirit, along a logically necessary path that leads to freedom. Most of us judge actions more for their motivation than by their consequences. In this way, I have undermined your rationality. For each of these things, you can also likely imagine a situation in which this so-called good thing is not good after all. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is generally considered to be one of the most profound and original philosophers who ever lived.
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