Kant's Categorical Imperative and De Waal Term Paper

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Kant and De Waal

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When considering human morality, some very complicated pitfalls can arise. Hence the various ethical debates that range around issues like the death penalty, abortion, and even a fundamentally private matter such as gay marriage. Many of these pitfalls are the result not only of emotion, but of the fundamental principles according to which individuals hold their religious and moral beliefs. Hence, Kant suggests that any action or decision should first be held up against a person's fundamental moral belief system or what he terms "good will." What an individual believes is "good" should therefore the guiding principle according to which decisions are made. Kant claims that this is a rational process that is not ruled by emotion but rather by rational thought, in comparing potential decisions and their effects to existing moral values. According to De Waal, on the other hand, moral decisions are based upon empathy and reciprocity; in other words, the human ability to feel emotion, which culminates in the maxim of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." For De Waal, human emotion is the primary moral compass that allows people to feel a sense of humanity towards others, and to act accordingly. When considering an issue like business profits, for example, one might use a combination of Kant's and De Waal's theories in order to determine the course of action that would display the highest sense of morality.

In terms of business profits, the primary maxim would be that I as business manager will use the lowest wages and the cheapest materials in order to achieve maximum profits for my company. A universal law related to this can then be that all business managers will minimize their labor and material costs to maximize their profit.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Kant's Categorical Imperative and De Waal Assignment

When Kant's principle of the categorical imperative is taken into account, it must necessarily be seen in conjunction with his views on the moral law. For Kant, individuals do not only use their rational minds to choose an action to take for personal profit, but also to balance such profit with a central set of personal values or a moral code that is important to that individual. This can translate simply to a sense of business fairness towards customers or, in legal terms, to adhering to the laws of the country in which the operations occur, such as minimum wage or taxes. These elements impact on the ability to maximize the profit margin, but are nonetheless important in a sound and rational decision making process. Such an individual would then rationally make consistent profit decisions according to both a personal moral code and according to the law of the country.

On the other hand, a business manager may just as well be somewhat corrupt and ignore codes such as minimum wage or quality materials in favor of the highest possible profit. Such a business owner may employ illegal workers for wages below the minimum or evade taxes to the detriment of the economy of the country, customers, and workers.

According to Kant's rule then, the potential… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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