Kant uses the moral agency philosophy and his theory of ethical duties to focus on how an action promotes the benefits of a particular obligatory end. Meanwhile, he also specifies an individual has two ends that he/she intends to achieve, which are one’s perfection and the other person’s happiness. In contrast, the duty of others (the other person’s happiness) appears to revolve around the free will matter because the duty of respect is its sub-duty. Likewise, Kant proposes that the sensitive nature of an individual should have respect in it to evade evil attachments. Furthermore, respect, as the duty of others’ segment, prohibits individuals from behaving in a certain manner towards others. Therefore, nothing is morally accountable because nothing is its basis and moral accountability often requires one to be in the presence of some definite critical rational respects.
Statement of Problem
Scholars focus on Kant’s work of moral philosophy and the criticisms that he receives for his work. There is inadequate information regarding whether nothing or something is morally accountable. For that reason, it has now become a major philosophical problem in Kant’s moral philosophy. Therefore, this paper attempts to answer several questions such as what a person’s duty towards others is, what people must or must not do, and is morality relative or absolute to help find answers to this current problem.
According to Kant, people’s virtues vary depending on their life plans and ends (Carter 547). On the other hand, he clarifies that a moral law makes an individual conscious of his/her autonomy of choice supremacy from will power by additional motivations and making individuals accountable for their actions (Carter, 547). He also identifies the predisposition of the will to personality, which is vulnerability to respect the moral law since owning it is own is adequate for the choice’s supremacy. It is also important because it involves integrating the moral law’s respect into his/her full potential hence indicating ultimate goodness. Likewise, Kant refers to it as “original predisposition to good” (Carter, 548). As per the moral feeling, a slight probability of respect needs to exist in an individual’s nature, a tendency to lack evil attachments. Correspondingly, Kant claims that the “propensity to evil” should not be present in the sensible nature of an individual (Carter, 548). He perceives that moral evil only arises from the moral realm, the free choice realm, also known as the human will. An individual’s sensible nature tied up with causality is not a part of the moral realm or free choice domain. For that reason, an individual’s sensible predispositions can never be morally good or evil. In Kant’s work of virtue, he identifies virtue as a strength issue.
Moreover, he distinguishes between the duties of virtue and duties of right (Carter, 549). Therefore, he states that right duties are duties that any social institution, such as law, can impose on an individual, while right duties are duties that one imposes on oneself. Likewise, an individual can choose to impose on oneself virtue of duties that stem from the spirit of duty and not outside authorization fears. All the same virtue duties are a character issue. Kant asserts that an individual’s main duty is to cultivate his/her own will to the extreme disposition of cleanest virtue, whereby the law is now an enticement to his/her actions that obey to duty and the duty’s law as well. Correspondingly, Kant defines moral agency as performing a person’s duty for the correct causes along with a proper attitude. Kant’s theory of ethical duties best illustrates it. This theory focuses on the benefits of action in promoting a specific requisite end and not on the intrinsic agility or defectiveness of activities.
Furthermore, he argues that individuals only have two ends which are one’s perfection (duty of oneself and another person’s happiness (duty to other people). The latter comprises of two free duties, which are of love and respect. Besides, Herbert (248) confirms that in the “On Treating Persons as Persons”, Kant’s idea is that there is a duty of treating other people as ends, a duty of being an end to these people. It is to imply a human right in one’s personality. Respectively, respect duties are very strict in that it restricts an individual from behaving in a certain manner towards other people.
In contrast, loving duties respectable in that it creates room for latitude irrespective of the degree or to who people act with compassion. Afterwards, he separates the love duties into three, including duties of beneficence, sympathetic participation, and gratitude. The duty of sympathetic participation involves cultivating a sympathy feeling to strengthen one’s sensitivity to other people’s needs and strengthen the individual’s capacity to perform beneficence duties. Kant disregards the fact that there is a duty that only involves being sympathetic for other people’s joy and sorrows. He further claims that it can only be possible if there exists a hopeless feeling. So, participation in the dynamic involvement in other people’s situations and viewing stuff from their viewpoints make a subjective standpoint.
Moreover, it is from the dynamic sharing that compassionate feelings and actions of beneficence arise. Olinder (564) claims that moral beliefs in the relativism view can or are often accurate despite the inexistence of total moral facts because these beliefs are merely about facts. On the other hand, in the error theory, moral beliefs are wrong because they are the total moral facts’ beliefs and these facts are not real. Conferring to moral relativism and error theory (absolutist), Kant’s idea of moral responsibility is moral relativism. His idea makes individuals believe that their duty towards others or respect is responsible for their actions towards others and not themselves.
According to Allot (344), everyone in the society is either a participant, a contributor, or engages in a collective product. However, he affirms a dramatic impact that each person is a participant, but none is accountable. He further clarifies that social injustices, women exploitation, drugs, war, and all kinds of human indignities are the social systems’ doings and yet it is not an agent of morality. Every person is accountable for his/her involvement in a certain activity but he/she is not answerable for the social outcomes. It is because these social outcomes are an additional impact of completing structures. Likewise, Zimmerman (252) claims that a moral community is essential for moral responsibility to exist. Therefore, since countries are also not agents of morality, they are also not ethically accountable. Furthermore, they are evil doers and not sinners. They also do shameful acts but they do not recognize shame. Besides, Julie Hanlon Rubio offers a dissimilar method that is completely aware of the problem’s nature in structure. Rubio claims that, so far, social forms are sinful because they oppose God’s kingdom. The structural evils’ moral responsibility involves participating in sinful social forms and casually contributing to damaging structural outcomes. Rubio uses the Catholic handbook convention to draw the cooperation category with evil. Customarily, this category accounts for how individuals can partly become accountable for other people’s evil deeds. Concerning the reformulation of Rubio, cooperation with evil involves an individual’s mistake of participating in social forms that are sinful. He further uses the purchasing clothing made by sweatshop labour as his example. The customary cooperation with evil traces the moral issue with this deed in its solid support for another person’s mistakes. By distinction, Rubio perceives the whole exploitation of economic structure as a collective sinful practice, and participating in it is no different from cooperating with evil (Darr, 23).
On the other hand, E. H. Carr holds that ordinary mature individuals are morally accountable for their personality. Besides, Jean-Paul Sartre speaks of every choice that every individual makes regarding his personality. Consequently, he claims that every individual is responsible for his/her being. Furthermore, Sartre maintains that the result is always accountable for what is made of one in some absolute sense. On the contrary, Kant claims that man in one way or the other plays a role in making himself into what he is at the moment, whether evil or good in moral logic. There is a possibility that the conditions set have impacted his power of choice, or else one could not hold him accountable for his acts. For that reason, he could be neither morally evil nor good. Since the man’s dedications were on the fundamental moral responsibility belief, Kant maintains that creating oneself in such a manner does happen. So, the character of a man is what he establishes. Likewise, a person with self-knowledge is his/her self-originator. A recent Education Minister in Britain knows as John Pattern, a Catholic whose the sin notion preoccupies his mind, claims that it is visible that as people grow up, they decide whether to be bad or good. Thus, being so sure that such information is adequate gives individuals an accurate moral responsibility of the assortment between heaven and hell (Strawson, 11). However, Kane talks less regarding moral responsibility. His standpoint is that a factual, moral responsibility is probable if there is accuracy in indeterminism. It is because, in ethical, sensible, and real-world tussle cases, individuals make themselves in a manner that, in the end, they are responsible for the results. Self-creation implies that individuals can finally be accountable for their current aims and character via virtue of earlier varieties that help form them and are finally accountable (op. cit, 252). Subsequently, an individual can finally be accountable and morally accountable in struggle cases concerning self-creation and when making choices or indulging in activities that hardly require tussles, in which there is a free flow from one’s personality and aims.
Furthermore, Kane seems to agree that one has to make oneself and, later, finally be accountable for oneself to be morally responsible for his/her actions. Lastly, Kane views an individual’s ultimate responsibility for the result of the will effort necessarily depends on the partially deterministic result’s nature. It is the only indeterminism component that inhibits early personality and aims to explain in full the result of the will effort (op. cit, 236) (Strawson, 19).
Since Allot claims that everybody is a participant, a contributor, or engages in a collective product. Still, they are not morally responsible. He tends to support the fact that nothing is morally accountable. It is even visible when he states that an individual is only responsible for participating in or doing a certain activity. Still, he/she is not accountable for the social outcome.
Furthermore, he blames the non-moral agents, which are the social systems (344). Concerning Kant’s works, he claims that a person’s duty towards others comprises two sub-duties: duties of love and respect. However, the latter restricts one from conducting certain acts towards others. Therefore, is the duty of respect a social system that is responsible for the social system? It can be true and also false. Since Kant claims that an individual’s sensible nature should tend to possess respect to ensure that there are no evil attachments, in this case, the duty of respect acts as a social system.
Furthermore, its limitations during one’s duty towards other people even make it a better social system. On the other, Kant is the root cause of the duty of respect ideology, and so, he further clarifies that no evil attachments can exist? Therefore, is the duty of respect that power makes an individual conform to only doing good and not any evils?
However, the Education Minister of Education, John Pattern, asserts that as individuals grow, they decide whether to be good or bad. His assertions are enough proof that the duty of respect is enough proof to inhibit a person from becoming worse or doing evil. Furthermore, the power of choice seems to contribute a lot to a person’s activities and social results. Kant affirms that people’s virtue differs depending on their obligatory ends or life plans. It implies that a person’s end goal plays a big role in what a man becomes. Therefore, if the end goals are good, then perhaps in the future, he might turn up to possess the good virtues, and if it is the other way round, he or she might develop vices. It is no different from the self-making technique during struggles or even moral laws, which makes an individual fully accountable for his or her own mistakes.
On the other hand, Kane views moral responsibility as dependent on the indeterminism concept hence completely making people disregard that people can be morally responsible. Recently, moral accountability relies more on determinism’s falseness than its accuracy. Nonetheless, it is impossible to hold another individual accountable for another person’s mistakes because every person possesses different virtues and different personalities. Concurrently, it is linkable to the human choice phenomenology, where an individual at times experiences his/her own choices or decisions thinking they are right. However, any individual can disagree with this belief unless they can easily claim that one can truly or finally be morally accountable for the decisions he/she makes or activities he/she does.
Kant’s duty of respect, Kane’s indeterminism, and Allot’s idea of social systems are all the possible beliefs as to why one cannot maintain that an individual can ever be morally responsible. It is only John Patten, Britain’s Education minister, that seems to agree that in the future, an individual’s power of choice helps determine if a person will finally be good or bad and later be held accountable for his actions or choices. However, even though the power of choice exists, Kant will assume that the duty of respect, the duty towards others, moral law, or even the duty of virtues or the duty of rights contribute a lot to man’s self-creation. Furthermore, they act as a guiding tool in what a man does, and so, they determine the social outcome. Nonetheless, if a person is compassionate or behaves politely towards others, then the duty of love or respect is visible.
Allot, P. “Kant or Won’t: Theory and Moral Responsibility (The BISA Lecture, December 1995).” Review of International Studies, Vol. 23, no. 3, 1997, pp. 339- 357, https://www.jstor.org/stable/20097485 Accessed on 9th May 2021.
Carter, J. “Reconsidering Virtue: Kant’s Moral Religion.” New Blackfriars, Vol. 93, No. 1047, 2012, pp. 544-561, https://www.jstor.org/stable/43251658 Accessed on 9th May 2021.
Darr, R. “Social Sin and Social Wrongs: Moral Responsibility in a Structurally Disordered World.” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2017 (Fall / Winter 2017), pp. 21-37, https://www.jstor.org/stable/44987549 Accessed on 9th May 2021.
Herbert, G. “Immanuel Kant: On Treating Persons as Persons.” The Personalist Forum, Vol. 15, No. 2, 1999 (Fall 1999), pp. 247-256, https://www.jstor.org/stable/20708820 Accessed on 9th May 2021.
Olinder, F. R. “Moral Relativism, Error Theory and Ascriptions of Mistakes.” The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 110, No. 10, 2013, pp. 564-580, https://www.jstor.org/stable/43820798 Accessed on 9th May 2021.
Strawson, G. “The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility.” Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition, Vol. 75, No. 1/2, 1994, pp. 5-24, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4320507 Accessed on 9th May 2021.
Zimmerman, C. J. “Strawson or Straw Man? More on Moral Responsibility and the Moral Community.” The Journal of Ethics, Vol. 21, No. 3, 2017, pp. 251-262, https://www.jstor.org/stable/45204564. Accessed 9th May 2021.
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