Kant’s Groundwork for Metaphysics seeks to expound on ethics in comparison to other branches, explicate the justification for the groundwork, and explain the various branches under moral philosophy. According to Kant & Ellington (1993), the work facilitates understanding of morals through explication of the notion surrounding a person who preserves his life because it is a moral duty and a person who preserves his life out of the fact that it is the best thing to do to oneself. Kant employs various things in explication of the difference between these people among them been the notion of supreme moral principle and the notion of moral requirement. Kant’s argument regarding duties and morality presents a contentious issue, which people encounter in their daily lives. Notably, people are required to work from time to time, and despite the fact that they are required to deliver their services, it is essential to question the moral worth behind their willingness to deliver the required service. In my opinion, actions done regarding duty have moral worth as a person knows that he will benefit from his actions or other people stand to benefit in one way or the other (Kant, 1996). I agree with Kant concerning his assertion dealing with the presence of natural inclination in reference to moral quality of our actions. Reasons why I agree with that assertion is that the presence of a natural inclination such as law will definately influence our actions, which promotes morality because a person will deem it prudent to take a certain action in a certain situation.
Thus, this essay explicates ways that Kant utilizes in explanation of his aforementioned assertions in the Groundwork for Metaphysics. In addition, the essay affirms the facts regarding actions done out of duty having moral worth. Lastly, the essay observes the rationale behind presence or absence of a natural inclination and how it influences the moral quality of our actions.
Kant characterizes the difference between a person who protects his life because it is a moral duty from a person who preserves his life because it is an inclination through the advancement of a caution. According to Denis (2010), Kant provides a caution regarding how people should cater for their lives in that, a person who protects his life because it is a moral duty can misguide oneself from what is the genuine supreme moral principle to another principle, which is less authoritative. Timmons (2002) asserts that, by indicating so, Kant was of the opinion that each individual’s notion of moral requirement reflects what every person considers as the right thing to do. Kant differentiates the aforementioned individuals through indicating that acting out of the fact that one has to could misguide our judgement regarding morality. In addition, Kant indicates that there could be a distortion regarding what morality is because people will have to observe the actions of other in order to determine what is morally sound and what is morally unsound.
According to Kant (1990), determining what moral duties humans have towards themselves is difficult because it requires finding out and establishing the supreme moral principle. Thus, Kant characterizes the difference between the aforementioned people by the fact that a person who preserves his life because it is a moral duty does so basing on the fact they do consider their actions before interacting with other people unlike people who preserve their lives because they are inclined to. This raises the question of morality regarding people’s behaviors, which indicates that a person who preserves his life out of the need for moral duty is concerned about how people around him will react or feel regarding his actions. There is an utter difference between the actions of a person who lives based on moral duty and a person who leads a carefree life.
Kant also employs the notion of human nature versus morality in explication of the difference between the aforementioned persons. According to Kant (1996), the difference emanates between a person who preserves his life out of moral duty and a person that preserves his life as it is an inclination from the fact that, those who preserve their lives out as a moral duty, do it out of morality, which reveals the human nature behind a person that preserves his life because of the same.
I agree with the claim that actions done out of duty have genuine moral worth as explicated in the following points. Firstly, actions from duty have a true moral worth because they depict the intrinsic, unconditional value of good will. This emanates from the fact that the actions from such a person will not be aimed at what one stands to benefit through delivering of the actions, but what one stands to achieve. This can be for the satisfaction of others or for a person’s own survival. Secondly, there is a connection done out of duty and the law. Notably, the law calls for people to act towards others in a manner that they would also wish to be treated. Thus, this inclines a person to deliver totally when working out of duty because a person will not expect to be compensated highly if his actions do not reflect what one asks for as compensation. The supreme moral law principle clearly aids in understanding this point because there is respect for universal law, which is a two way traffic.
I agree with Kant’s assertion regarding absence and presence of a natural inclination affecting the moral quality of our actions. This can be argued from the fact that when a person is sympathetic, it does not make an action more moral because that reveals the inclination that a person has opted to. In this case, we realize that when a person is sympathetic to another, the person has it in himself to depict sympathy; thus, what can be considered as a natural inclination, which definitely affects the quality of morality that the person depicts. On the other hand, when a person chooses to be unsympathetic, this also indicates the presence of a natural inclination, which affects the moral quality of our action. Notably, when a person chooses to be unsympathetic, this means that the person had the power to decide otherwise also, which reveals the effect it has on the moral quality of our actions (Denis, 2010). Thus, it is essential to note that the absence of a natural inclination cannot affect the moral quality of our actions because a person’s actions will be tied to laid down rules, which means a person cannot stray from the laid down law; consequently, affects the moral quality of our actions because the decision taken can have adverse effects on the person on the receiving end (Kant, 1996).
In conclusion, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals is a work by Immanuel Kant that traces ethics in comparison to other fields of philosophy while at the same time establishes the distinct clusters of moral philosophy. The work also explicates the underlying principle for the groundwork. Kant employs caution, human nature and morality, and moral duties humans have in explication of the differences between a person that protects his life as a moral duty and that who preserves his life as an inclination. The intrinsic, unconditional value in our actions when working under duty reflect the moral worth of our actions.