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Ethical Theory of Kant Overview Kant began his career as an astronomer and later delved into moral philosophy Kant set out to determine existence of a moral law by which all people must live and abide by For Kant such a law had to be both universal and categorical and must be completely a priori in reason Reasoning Kant begins by defining reason He argues that rational thinking beings are provided with the faculty of reason and reason is meant to serve as a guide for the will According to him reason is meant to guide in the creation of the good will a will which can ascertain through a priori reasoning the laws of morality A priori reasoning creates judgments that are based upon reason alone independent of all sensory experience and therefore apply with strict universality A priori judgments are traditionally analytic in nature Kant proposes a radically different form of judgment - synthetic a priori Synthetic judgments are those whose predicates are distinct from their subjects and can therefore provide new knowledge about the subject Kant feels that in some fields namely arithmetic geometry and metaphysics synthetic judgments can also be a priori meaning that they rely on no external experience Duties Kant then goes on to dwell on intuitive self-evident condition of a moral law or duty He proposes that rational beings may have many duties both perfect and imperfect and internal and external Kant has created a law that is universal on two fronts it is applicable to all persons and in all situations With this Categorical Imperative Kant has given us the pure rational form of moral law All other moral laws must be derived from this synthetic a priori foundation The inherent worth of the pure rational form of law lies in its objectivity It is from this objectivity that moral laws obtain their authority to command If a law is allowed to
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