Categorical Imperative Essay Research Paper The principle

Categorical Imperative Essay, Research Paper The principle of private happiness states that an individual?s prosperity is weighed in proportion to that person?s good conduct. In short,

Categorical Imperative Essay, Research Paper

The principle of private happiness states that an individual?s

prosperity is weighed in proportion to that person?s good conduct. In short,

one?s peace of mind is empirically measured by how virtuous one is towards

others and to himself. Kant?s objection to ethical theories that use this idea

emanates from the fact that it extends human reason, one that determines good

will and good conduct, outwards instead of inwards, reason being automatic,

inherent in an individual. The above doctrine puts motive on virtues, meaning

that one?s good conduct is being used as a means to an end. Morality is not

established because the inner self is not developed out of one?s duty but

instead, the necessity to have good will is for satisfying a particular purpose.

Moreover, it is superficial, centered on a human being?s feelings and

inclinations rather than pure reason. If one can not exercise rational behavior,

one will form one?s beliefs out of sheer feelings and base one?s opinion of

others on this. Moral feeling is not an apt judge of right and wrong because it

lacks that uniform standard, one that is unbiased and not easily swayed by

emotion. The fact that individuals are different also implies that they have

different basis and sources on morality, that they have dissimilar opinions on

good and evil. It makes it difficult, then, to establish a universally

acceptable set of laws if it is solely based on the dynamic nature of human

emotion. Kant believes that one?s good will is inherently good in itself, and

should not be measured empirically. To use one?s will as a means to an end

produces nothing but unhappiness and extends only to misology, the hatred of

reason. Framing one?s life to certain expectations and shaping one?s actions

to the attainment of those goals can be fatal when those expectations are not

met. Failure brings people down and to lack reason, one that does not conform to

desires, is to lack a foundation to stand on, to enable one to bounce back from

defeat. It will serve one better to have a definite belief in one?s maxim to

be universally acceptable, acting only on those intentions that one believes

everybody else will accept. Therefore, the principle of private happiness calls

for a person to prove that moral worth within an existing situation. This theory

assumes that one?s will can not stand independently without it being tested or

challenged. One?s prosperity is within the human being. All moral conceptions,

according to this philosopher, originate not from empirical evidence, but only

reason alone. Ends do not justify the means all the time. One can contrast

Kant?s beliefs on private happiness to that of Bentham?s utilitarian

principle. The latter defends the fact that actions are moral to the extent that

it maximizes happiness. There is a functional aspect to morality in this sense

because one?s actions are judged good or bad according to how it makes the

individual happy or unhappy. Kant opposes this idea because happiness, in his

view, is strictly empirical. What brings a person satisfaction is subject to

one?s experiences, it involves comparisons to certain events in one?s life.

And for this, he explains that there is no definite principle to secure

happiness, there is no imperative or law that can make anyone happy anytime.

Prosperity is often a sign of happiness, and happiness, in Kant?s belief, is

more of an issue of human imagination, rather than human reason. Still according

to private happiness, good conduct determines peace in one?s life. It can be

assumed in this principle that one can only act morally when one wishes to live

in prosperity. Kant, on the other hand, reiterates that it is one?s duty to

act with good will towards one?s self and others as well. It is only in this

manner that moral worth can be allocated to one?s actions. Private happiness

tends to be a belief that is very selective on its character. Individuals that

agree with this perspective will tend to follow it whenever they see it fit

themselves to do so. But perfectly rational beings, according to Kant, will just

do the right thing, without any hidden agenda whatsoever. I believe in some of

the areas on private happiness. Like the fact that having good conduct does

increase the chances of one having peace of mind. Having a society that still

does good things rather than one mired in chaos and lawlessness, I?d take that

in a heartbeat. I can sleep well at night knowing that there are still people

who believe in their values and act on them, regardless of why they choose to do

so. But the idea of a good will serving a particular purpose does sound

hypocritical. Kant?s notion of doing the right thing because it is one?s

duty to do so is part of his philosophy that I believe in. But how do you know

that there is no hidden agenda? How do you distinguish an act done out of duty

and one done out of personal gain? I mean we have to be omniscient, God-like, to

be able to separate these two things. And that is my beef with Kant?s idea of

pure reason and pure good will. It is difficult to filter out the purity of

another?s intentions. It does seem to be paranoia, or a severe case of

distrust on my fellowman, but in order to believe in something, you?ve got to

test its strength across different situations. Only then will you know that

you?re defending the right ideology. Kant, on account of the above reason, now

says that one should act only on those intentions that can be universally

acceptable, to act only on those intentions that everybody else will accept. But

again, how do you know what is agreeable to others and what is detestable?

Except for the so-called ?psychics?, last time I heard, no human being can

read minds?so I hope. So, do I agree with the principle of private happiness?

I do, when it comes to exhibiting good conduct, that it does determine, among

other things, how safe and comfortable one is with his or her life. I don?t,

because it does lose moral worth when it?s a means to an end. However,

Kant?s supposition is not that clear either to make me embrace his teachings.

I?m left in what others often call a conundrum, stuck with no absolute

explanation to the nature of human reason and good will. Maybe that?s why they

teach these things?

334