One time or another, humanity is faced with questions that are related to ethics and morality.
These issues are common and every human being including a teacher, a businessman or a farmer usually requires us to make decisions and take action. Every action that a human being takes has consequences and therefore it is important for human beings to think and reason before they rush into decisions. It is not simple enough to say that people’s actions are either good or evil or result in good or bad consequences. However, the thought process is the one that ends up making decisions that are involved with morality, (Kant 34). Human beings are dynamic beings and it is impossible to deduce that morality standards all around the world are simply the same. When human beings are forced to make moral or ethical decisions, they may often take pieces of their culture and incorporate them in the process of decision making in the context of morality. Morality and ethics is simply defined by individuals as a set of guidelines that enable individuals distinguish what is wrong from what is right and acceptable.
Moral philosophers such as Kant and Sartre are simply interested in finding out how human beings end up justifying and rationally choosing what is wrong and what is right using their moral believes. Individuals may therefore in turn go ahead and use various religious or even traditional values to justify their decisions. Kant’s moral system is anchored on morality and therefore goes ahead to explain that a rational human being would easily adapt to universal moral laws and use them as a basis of determining what is right or wrong.
Explicit reasoning is responsibly conducted thinking that follows logical steps, in which an individual tries to arrive at a well-supported solution to a definite question. It is possible that people’s reasoning is understood or implied without being stated openly, thinking in the same way as a group through overt logic, but with no clear attempt to arrive at well-supported answers. In a number of situations, even moral ones, individuals may be poorly advised to attempt answering practical questions by explicit reasoning (Kant 54). In other situations it might even be an oversight to reason understandingly or in a manner implying without being stated openly particularly when dealing with pressing urgent situations or when we face extreme panic. Consequently even one is not obligated to think through the presented choices in all circumstances since it would occasionally do much good if one does not, however in cases where the opposite is called for, one as a result should think through the presented circumstances maturely.
On one hand, moral philosophy is usually guided and based on moral reasoning. This poses a question: Are there any moral principles that steer human decision? If there are, then one can deduce that utilitarianism competes with Kantianism. On the other hand, a rather isolated question stems up trying to offer a metaphysical explanation for moral truths or for the claim that none exist. Assuming moral truths exist, the big question here is what makes the midpoint between truths and lies. Moral reasoning does not only pose philosophical problems, but what’s more is consideration on account of its contribution as a natural outcome of other factors influencing moral specifics and conjectures. For that reason, moral reasoning will at many times be useful to individuals whose genuine concern is in determining the right answer to a number of tangible moral problems or in arguing for or against some moral theory.
Moral rules, ideas, principles, and techniques that apply to a subject, especially when seen as distinct from actual practice, are highly imperative as the distinguishing ways one endeavors to work all the way through a particular sort of moral predicament are just as revealing about our well thought-out advances towards these matters as are any end result judgments we may characteristically arrive at (Kant 6-27). In addition, people have strongly secured, thoughtful assurances pertaining to how a specific kind of problem is best engage on even when in doubt about what should be done. Such cases warrant taking a look at the ways, manners or form for example, a way of doing something, or the form in which something exists- or moral reasoning that we typically accept and this can advantageously increase the set of moral information from which we start, suggesting various avenues of organizing the competing considerations.
Kant’s Categorical Imperative
Kant’s categorical imperative, which is his first formulation on what morality entails, suggests that individuals are moral agents who are very rational and quite autonomous, therefore make free choices using their own judgments in order to carry out actions. Therefore, an individual’s action is moral so long as it is consistent with the existing categorical imperative. According to Kant, the categorical imperative is a component if universal law and therefore before carrying out an action that will result into consequences an individual asks himself what would happen if every individual in the planet decided to carry out the same action.
Therefore according to Kant a man chooses his/her course of action, but before acting man decides to deduce the maxim or general rule trying to validate his/her choices, furthermore these categorical imperatives can be existing laws which are applicable to everyone and lack any logical ambiguities, if this imperative fails the above procedure then man will go back and chose another course of action until an action is completely acceptable. Therefore if someone decides to lie he/she would most likely look at existing categorical imperatives and logically access by becoming a liar, it would be justifiable and rational by either predicting whether that such a lie would make the world a better place or vice versa (Sartre 1946). Furthermore, Kant’s second formulation also suggests that another way is always to act to treat humanity. By doing so, individuals do not use other individuals as a means to achieving another person’s happiness. Using Kant’s second formulation it would completely be wrong to use other people as a means to an end because it interferes with the other person’s freedom and autonomy. However, the weakness of Kant’s theory is that it does not lay a clear boundary as to what is considered as good or bad this is because Kant believed that by using logic then individuals could end up justifying their wrongs.
A good example is asking whether it would be justifiable to steal one Kidney from a completely healthy person in order to perform a transplant on another very person with an aim of saving his/her life (Kant 15-26). Using Kant’s theory a doctor who oversaw the operation could argue that saving a man’s by taking one kidney which has no use from another person without his/her consent in order to save a life was a valid reason for his actions. Furthermore, another shortcoming of this philosophy is that it is not proactive and therefore doesn’t prevent man from doing bad by urging us to do good it instead directs use to use critical thinking and logic to base out actions on (Kant 16)
Sartre’s Existentialism is Humanism
Jean Paul Sartre in the book Existentialism a book on philosophies concerning responsibility, moral choices, values, individualism, anguish, despair and concepts of universality states that “For every man, everything happens as if all mankind had its eyes fixed on him and were guiding itself by what he does. And every man ought to say to himself” (Sartre 1946).
This means that’s moral action is universal and therefore mankind would like to behave in such a way that is acceptable onto the overall community or society by which he/she exists a man does not only choose for himself but also for others, furthermore man finds himself on earth with or without his consent and therefore he is obligated to accept this and automatically assume responsibility. Sartre gives an example during the Second World War of an approach from one of his pupils in the then occupied Paris, in quest of counsel relating to joining the war. This student, as Sartre says, was torn between two choices: 1) staying with the mother- who would have been left alone all the same- as the war raged on; or 2) leaving her and joining the Free French forces and matching on to England to join into the fray (Sartre 1946). Satre’s discussion of this complexity of choices was that it simply came down to a question on one’s own morality which the young man had been faced with tough choices to make that led him to seek for advice from Sartre.
To understand the background of this topic on morality from Sartre’s philosophical point of view one has to ask themselves whether the young man was in any way logically analyzing his dilemma. Not necessarily. Sartre utilized this case to explain his cynicism concerning the possibility of addressing such a practical question by reasoning. But then what is reasoning? Moral considerations frequently conflict with one another. Furthermore Moral principles also conflict with which each other and so do and moral commitments. The young man being used by Sartre as an example to explain the philosophy behind morality had been faced by a moral conflict; therefore presuming that passionate allegiance and patriotism are moral consideration is not farfetched. This case as used by Sartre can be a foundation for study on the metaphysics of morality or the truth conditions contained in morally sounding statements that give an account on moral reasoning.
Sartre goes further in the book to state a man may take a critical look at his actions and therefore ask himself if his behavior is up to standard and if other people who are part of mankind can therefore guide their decisions based on his/ her actions and if mankind does not ask himself this questions then he/she must be masking his anguish. “In fact, in creating the man that we want to be, there is not a single one of our acts which does not at the same time create an image of man as we think he ought to be” (Sartre 1946) for that reason the choices and actions that human beings make, limit them to always choose right over wrong this is an obvious thing and is a collective superset of all people. Sartre’s works rubbed the Christians wrongly because it suggests that man exists as a free and totally responsible unit or either God exists and therefore divine omniscience is completely independent and therefore plays no role in determining morality of mankind but on the other hand it is the sense of freedom and responsibility that shape mankind’s moral choices and actions and therefore responsibility and choice only makes sense in the absence of God. Sartre believes that man is individually responsible, totally responsible and universally responsible (Sartre 1946). According to this theory, a man chooses for himself maintaining a sense of self responsibility at the same time creating/portraying the image of man and also furthermore man understands that his actions have an overall impact on the bearing on all men and therefore a man should be ready to assume responsibility for his/her actions.
Sartre’s philosophy on morality has also a number of shortcomings one of them being that the community/society cannot be assumed to be homogenous and have a norm. It is therefore unrealistic to say that the decision of one man is a universal decision. Every individual or person in the universe is a different person who has the ability to think on their own and make decisions that will affect them alone and in no way affect the decision of other members within the subset. The final verge query is whether moral reasoning is justly distinct from practical reasoning more commonly agreed. Asking ourselves whether moral reasoning is for the most part probably idiosyncratic as weighed against theoretical reasoning that basically stems up from accurate recognition of the moral facts and has before now been wholly addressed and cautiously answered in the positive. The different ways in which theories on morality project very diverse reasoning models of morality is a very delicate matter in trying to address the questions that come with morality. An example is Aristotle’s ideology that states that a fairly general account can be specified in the case of practical reasoning, practical reasoning selecting means to ends and determining the actual end result of a desired activity (Sartre 1946) The variation connecting the way of thinking of a vicious individual being and of virtuous character differs not at all because that are highly similar, the only difference is that a virtuous person intends to arrive at something that is good and not evil as it is the case of a vicious person.
Kant’s categorical imperative has its foundations deeply rooted in practical reasoning (using practical judgment). Therefore according to Kant practical reasoning intends to maximize a person’s individual gain in contrast to the process moral reasoning is therefore definitely intended to take a more universal approach and therefore intends to maximize the total gain of the whole society/universe (Kant 44).
According to the moral theories of Sartre and Kant, individuals are expected to reason and behave in the same way but this may not actually be true or realistic according to Bernard Williams, who notably argued that it would be weird to reason otherwise. Williams argued out a situation where a person in a lifeboat is faced with a situation where he has to either save an unknown person to him or his wife; that an imperialist morality that would stipulate the person reflects on whether giving first choice to the spouse comes into play (Kant 18). Without a doubt, Williams’ accuracy on this suggests that morality consents or in reality demands the person faced with two choices to reflect on them within a constrained range of the concerns so as to essentially take action stipulated within in his/her circumstances.
Kant, Immanuel. Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals. Cambridge: Hackett Pub. Co., 1981.
Print. Sartre, Jean-Paul. Existentialism Is a Humanism. marxists.org, Web. 1 Dec. 2010.