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We begin with the concept of what can be conceived to be good without qualification a good will Other good features of human nature and the benefits of a good life Kant pointed out have value only under appropriate conditions since they may be used either for good or for evil But a good will is intrinsically good its value is wholly self-contained and completely independent of its external relations Since our practical reason is better fitted to the development and guidance of a good will than to the achievement of happiness it follows that the value of a good will does not depend even on the results it manages to produce as the consequences of human action Kants moral theory is that actions are morally right in virtue of their motives which must derive more from duty than from inclination The clearest examples of morally right action are exactly those in which an individual agents determination to act in accordance with duty overcomes his or her apparent self-interest and obvious desire to do otherwise But in such a case Kant argues the moral value of the action can only reside in a formal principle or maxim the general commitment to act in this way because it is ones duty So he states Duty is the necessity to act out of reverence for the law According to Kant then the ultimate principle of morality must be a moral law conceived so theoretically that it is capable of guiding us to the right action in application to every possible set of circumstances So the only relevant feature of the moral law is its generality the fact that it has the formal property of becoming universal by virtue of which it can be applied at all times to every moral agent From this chain of reasoning about our ordinary moral concepts Kant derived as an introduction statement of moral obligation the notion that right actions
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