Applying Kant's Theory to a Term Paper

Download this Term Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Term Paper:

"(Kant, 30) Thus, Dorothea's action coincides with the first formulation of the categorical imperative. Had she determined to refuse the request made by Casaubon, the law would have contained a contradiction in itself and thus would have been violated. It is arguable that when asked for help, a person should grant it at the expense of his or her personal comfort. The contrary law could not have any validity since it would deny the existence of kindness and selflessness among people. Dorothea acted selflessly, although she did waver to make this sacrifice simply because she did not feel the actual end of the action would be noble enough. Nevertheless, the immediate end, that of completing her duty to her husband as a fellow human being, is a noble end in itself, and this is why Dorothea chose to fulfill it. Dorothea significantly rejects the circumstance- that of having to perform something which is both toilsome and futile- and makes the morally correct decision of respecting her duty for her husband: "Neither law nor the world's opinion compelled her to this -- only her husband's nature and her own compassion, only the ideal and not the real yoke of marriage."(Eliot, 523) She is thus evidently compelled by an 'ideal' rather than a real, immediate duty.

The second formulation of the categorical imperative sheds new light on Dorothea's decision. According to this beautiful principle thus, everyone should act in a way in which humanity, both in oneself and in the other fellow beings should be treated as an end and not only a means: "Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means to an end."(Kant, 36) This is to say that a person should not only aim at being humane but at actually cherishing and emphasizing humanity as an abstract and probably the most important quality in a human being. Thus, Dorothea's action is plainly the most acceptable one, since she envisages an ideal principle of marriage and duty towards her husband. She aims not only at treating him kindly, but ultimately her selflessness tokens the absolute respect for her humanity as well as for his. She is unable to hurt him precisely because she knows she would damage his soul: "She saw clearly enough the whole situation, yet she was fettered: she could not smite the stricken soul that entreated hers. If that were weakness, Dorothea was weak."(Eliot, 523) Dorothea's action is thus both humane and aiming at a higher respect for humanity as an abstract virtue in human beings.

Dorothea's decision to make a promise that would save her husband but bind her is thus an instance of selfless and ethical behavior. She reaches the decision by renouncing her own welfare in favor of her husband towards whom she is bound in duty. My own action in a similar situation would be the same as Dorothea's, since one can not purposely trample with another person's wishes or well-being, even if the decision affects the personal comfort in an unpleasant way. Dorothea thus abides by both of Kant's formulations of the categorical imperative. First of all, she acts out of moral idealism, which compels her to sacrifice her own comfort for that of another human being, a situation which surpasses the actual duties imposed on a faithful wife by the social system. Secondly, in deciding to give her promise, Dorothea respects herself as a human being as well as her husband, thus emphasizing the quality of humanity as the crucial virtue.

Thus, it can be concluded that, from an ethical point-of-view, certain action may be necessary despite their apparent futility. The purpose of helping with a work that is not in itself truly useful becomes noble when it saves another human being.

Works Cited

Eliot, George. Middlemarch. New York: Penguin, 1984

Kant, Immanuel. Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals. Translated by James W. Ellington.…[continue]

Cite This Term Paper:

"Applying Kant's Theory To A" (2008, April 30) Retrieved December 11, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/applying-kant-theory-to-a-30225

"Applying Kant's Theory To A" 30 April 2008. Web.11 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/applying-kant-theory-to-a-30225>

"Applying Kant's Theory To A", 30 April 2008, Accessed.11 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/applying-kant-theory-to-a-30225

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Kant s View on Euthanasia Is

    Once again, the moral value of the matter in question is proven to be wrong. Therefore, the fundamental principles which need to be taken into consideration when discussing the Kantian ethics are represented by the categorical imperative, humanity and autonomy. The most important value that man needs to respect is life. Just like he will not harm another person's life, he must never harm his own. Annulling one's self means

  • Kant and Nietzsche Throughout History

    In this "slave morality," as Nietzsche states, the values of the master morality, which are proper, and turned around, which undermines the natural order. He believes the natural order was that the strong continue to succeed at the cost of the weaker members of society. In response to their lowered status in the order, the caste used their hatred, revenge, and resentment to create morals that would weaken the master

  • Kant s Universal Principle of Right and Categorical Imperative

    Kant's universal principle of right and categorical imperative has yielded a heated debate on whether there is relationship between the two (UPR and CI). The debate arises on the question, "Can Kant's "universal principle of right" be derived from his "categorical imperative?" Many authors have presented their view, against and supporting. This debate is significant since it helps in realizing the impact of the juridical law on the individuals in

  • Kant and the 21st Century

    600). What Cushman means with this is that the self has become empty resulting from the loss of the community, tradition, and shared experience connected to specific cultures or communities (Cushman, 1990, p. 600). This empty self then needs emotional fulfillment, which individuals have sought in consuming products and ideas offered by the media and by shops. Indeed, the author claims that the current psychological phenomena of narcissism and

  • Kant and De Waal When

    This might or might not mean that a business owner would adhere to generally accepted laws and codes. I do not think that I would like to live in such a world, since contradictions might too easily arise. Instead, I would add an extra element to the categorical imperative suggested by Kant. De Waal's theory adds a dimension to Kant's categorical imperative. He claims that even animals have a culture

  • Kant and His Theories of

    The Critique of Pure Reason proposed and researched, highlighting expertise of how the mind's synthetic framework makes up the world. As a review of taste, such a technique does not try to separate some home that is distinct to beautiful items, however rather intends at exposing how the mind discovers specific items beautiful. Kant thinks that this is possible since the intellect that is associated with common spatiotemporal experience,

  • Kant s Refutation of the Ontological Proof of

    Kant's refutation of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence Kant' Refutation In the Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant set out a framework intended to refute the ontological argument. It is said that the critique was directed at Descartes and Leibniz. And oddly, Pierre Gassendi expected such a criticism from Kant, even going so far as to write about it in his Objections to Descartes' Meditations. Kant's framework consisted of a number


Read Full Term Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved