Philosophy Paper Example: Goodwill

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Utilitarianism, Universalizability, Humanity Formulation, Charity, and Value Theory

Philosophy Paper Example: Introduction

We ought to perform actions that have the best possible consequences. Also, the goodwill, which is characterized as one that does what is right because it is correct, discovers the principle of unconditionally good action. Besides, humanity formulation leads in the most direct way possible to duty without damaging someone else. In addition to these, what is done out of kindness or charity is often seen as something lying beyond duty or beyond what is morally required. We also need to use practical reasoning because it not just works out the means to pre-given ends but also establishes which ends are worthy of choice. In summary, the right thing to do is making the orders of the goodwill come true.

Utilitarianism

Kant thinks that, because it is just a contingent fact that action produces results that are good, it would, if we made duty dependent upon the goodness or badness of the consequences of our actions, just be a contingent fact that we had a responsibility to do an act which had good outcomes. For if, as is entirely possible, it did not produce these good consequences, it would not be our duty to do it. The principle of utilitarianism that we ought to perform actions that have the best possible consequences is contingent. For what this principle asserts is the hypothetical truth that if an effort produces the best possible outcomes, then it ought to be performed. It does not follow from the fact that the antecedent of this hypothetical proposition is contingent that the proposal as a whole is (Bird, 2010)." 'Intuitionists' - I am not saying that Kant was one - can do no better, for all they are committed to is such propositions as that if we have made a promise, we ought to keep it, or that if we have incurred a debt, we ought to pay it, and the antecedent of these hypothetical propositions are just as contingent as is the antecedent of the principle of utilitarianism. Any ultimate moral law, indeed, and not just utilitarianism, must be hypothetical, and none is prevented from being necessarily true by the fact that the question of whether or not its antecedent is fulfilled is one about a contingent matter of fact. There is no reason, therefore, why utilitarianism should not apply to all rational beings, and not just to men.

Therefore, in the case of rape and riot, the sheriff should arrest the innocent scapegoat. Because of the principle of utilitarianism, that we ought to perform actions which have the best possible consequences, is contingent. For what this principle asserts is the hypothetical truth that if an effort produces the best possible outcomes, then it ought to be performed.

Universalizability

Kant is engaged in a "motivational analysis of the notion of duty or rightness. Kant is analyzing the goodwill, characterized as one that does what is right because it is correct, to discover the principle of unconditionally good action. He assumes that "the reason why a good-willed person does an activity, and the reason why the action is right, is the same (Potter & Timmons, 1985).

  • The reason in both cases is the maxim's capacity to express a demand on us, its normative force.

  • Kant holds that the legal character (normative force) of the agent's maxim must not derive from any external source, such as God's commands.

  • And if that were so, by the equivalence mentioned in the first point, the agent would not be acting on the maxim because of the maxim's normative force, but because of the normative effect of the outside source. For example,the agent would not be acting on the maxim because it was right to do so. The normative force of the maxim of the action cannot derive from any external source. What then constitutes the maxim's normative force? The only alternative to dependence on an external source is that the maxim's normative force is represented by the fact that the maxim has an "intrinsic lawlike form."

  • This lawlike form must be specified by the universalizability test, that is, by the Formula of Universal Law. If acting on a particular maxim is required by the universalizability test, the maxim is one of duty; it is "one that you must will serve as a universal law. And this means that the maxim is a law to which your own will commits you. But a maxim to which your own will commits you is normative for you."

  • Hence only the Formula of Universal Law (and, presumably, similar principles) can confer lawlike form on the maxims of duty. Consequently, only it can be the supreme principle of morality.

According to this formulation, in the case of borrowing money without intending to pay it back, it is the wrong thing to do. Our will commits us to pay it again, and therefore it is a maxim and right thing to do.

Humanity Formulation

Duties of moral perfection also seem to follow directly from the humanity formulation. To preserve one's goodwill, one is obligated to 'strive with all one's might that the thought of duty for its own sake is the sufficient incentive of every action conforming to duty. Besides, the humanity formulation would seem to lead in the most direct way possible to a duty not to damage permanently one's necessary powers of rationality, since to damage one's will is also to damage one's good will. But to derive other duties to oneself from the humanity formulation, it is necessary to look at the details of human nature, not just at the basic argument for the humanity formulation.

According to humanity formulation, borrowing money without intending to give it back is the wrong thing to do. Because the right thing to do is doing duty. It is our duty to give it back because it damages the other person.

Charity

The word 'help' may also signal the idea that assistance is an expression of benevolence, kindness, or a desire to do good, and it is often linked with the concept of 'charity.' While terms like 'benevolence,' and 'charity,' are acceptable if they are carefully interpreted, they can give rise to a false impression. What is done out of kindness or charity is often seen as something lying beyond duty or beyond what is morally required? That is, if we do something to help, we can feel positively good about it (Singer, 1993). The issue of this essay is whether helping is a duty, and in some sense, required of us.

Value Theory

About the nature of value, philosophers argue that subjective interests give rise to reasons, which are then subjected to formal tests to see if they are sufficient to bring about the ends they prescribe for an agent. If the reason passes these tests, the end is taken to be valuable. This theory views the connection between practical reasoning and value differently from its rivals; practical reasoning does not solely work out the means to pre-given ends but also establishes which ends are worthy of choice. Something may be valued in itself or for the contribution it makes to achieving a further state, which is valuable. Jogging may be tedious, but it is instrumental in attaining health, which is finally valuable as an end in itself (The encyclopedia of philosophy, 2006). This distinction between the instrumentally valuable and the finally valuable is appropriately located within the theory of practical reasoning since it concerns the place of an 'end' or goal within an agent's system of practical ends.

Conclusion

In the case of rape and riot, the sheriff should arrest the innocent scapegoat. Because of the principle of utilitarianism, that we ought to perform actions that have the best possible consequences. Also, in the case of borrowing money without intending to pay it back, it is the wrong thing to do. Our will commits us to pay it back, and therefore it is a maxim and right thing to do. Borrowing money without intending to give it back is the wrong thing to do. Because the right thing to do is doing duty. We must give it back because it damages the other person. The right thing to do is making the orders of the goodwill come true.

References

Bird, G. (2010). A companion to Kant. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.

Potter, N. T., & Timmons, M. (1985). Morality and universality: essays on ethical universalizability. Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel Pub. Co.

Singer, P. (1993). A Companion to ethics. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.

Thomson Gale, Macmillan Reference. (2006). The encyclopedia of philosophy. Detroit.

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