Moral Philosophy Can Desires and Feelings Be Research Paper

  • Length: 10 pages
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  • Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy
  • Type: Research Paper
  • Paper: #78184941

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Moral Philosophy

Can desires and feelings be in accordance with or contrary to reason? Are they under the control of, or guided by, reason? Compare, contrast, and critically evaluate the answers of Aristotle and Hume to these questions and their arguments in support of those answers.

David Hume is one of the most significant philosophers of the 18th Century. Hume is skeptical about moral truths, and he ascertains that ethics comes from feelings, and not reason. Hume argues that moral judgments are founded on sentiment, feelings of disapproval or approval and not reason. He furthers ascertains that feelings and desires are independent of reason. According to Hume, reason handles the connection of concepts or matters of fact. An examination of common moral evils discloses neither links of concepts nor matters of fact, but only sentiment (Hume 16).

To confirm that desires and feelings are not in accordance with reason, and that they are not controlled or directed by reason, Hume utilizes three examples to promote his argument; murder, ingratitude and incest. Hume considers why incest in human is not right while, the same act in animals is right. He argues that there is no disparity in the connection of concepts or in the fundamental facts. The only disparity is that human beings disapprove of incest in human beings and not in animals. With respect to murder, Hume thinks that the wrongness of murder is not found in any objective fact or reasoning regarding links of ideas (White 31). Regarding the crime of ingratitude, the crime is not found in links of concepts neither is it an observable fact. However, the crime of ingratitude is found in an ungrateful, person's mind, it is a feeling of indifference or ill-will. Hume therefore concludes that morality is determined by feelings and desires and not reasoning. Desires and feelings can differentiate between vice and virtue while reason cannot (White 31).

On the contrary, Aristotle desires and feelings are under the control of reason. According to Aristotle, a person's desires and feelings listen to reason (Aristotle 18). Reason is drawn upon in human beings grasping the condition they are in. As a result, the feelings and desires of human beings rely in situational appreciation. The attitude people take towards a given condition is because of the comprehension they take towards their condition and judgment of the values of the situation. A person's desires and feelings are dependent on reason, and they are intimately linked to the reason exercise. People's feelings are not arbitrary, and they are determined through the significance that people assign to some aspects of themselves and the world. For instance, if a person judge the consumption of a snake to be disgusting, then that person will get repelled by the burger he/she is taking when she learn that snake is one of its content.

2. Someone who does not enjoy fine actions is not good," says Aristotle (1099a18). Kant, it seems, would not agree. Explain in detail why each takes the position he does and how he defends that position. Which view do you find more plausible? Why?

According to Aristotle, every action holds a final cause, which is the good at which the activity aims. He argues that the lack of an inestimable relapse of just extrinsic goods gives way to the greatest good through which, all human actions ultimately aims (Aristotle 18). The ultimate end of human actions is happiness. Human beings' 'good' must in essence entail the whole apposite function of human life, and this must be a soul action that expresses genuine excellence or virtue. Aristotle argues that when people choose to undertake an activity, they do it in a view to some end. However, a person who performs a virtuous action does not do it virtuously unless he chooses it for itself. Actions are carried out for the sake of other aspects, and actions that people undertake are not themselves the ends with a view to which they undertake them.

Aristotle states that whereas contemplation does not aim at any end beyond itself, fine actions aim at some end, and are not desirable for their own sake. Doing good and noble actions is a thing desirable for its own sake, and such actions are desirable in themselves from which nothing is hunted beyond the activity. What makes a painful action pleasant is the fineness of the end the virtuous person aim at (Miller 256). The virtuous person acts with pleasure because he acts for the sake of the fine. Fine actions are those actions whose benefit is enjoyed after death, and there are noble and admirable. As a result, someone who does not enjoy virtuous action is not good.

However, Aristotle conceptualization of morality brought light to some of the controversies that face moral philosophy after him. Instead of describing morality, Aristotle offered a subjective conceptualization of morality suggested through his virtuous traits. Following Aristotle's, a disagreement whether rationality and emotion functioned as the basis of morality started to develop. Immanuel Kant came down opposing Aristotle's views. While Kant believes that reason should be the foundation of morality, he regarded emotion as the same kind of hindrance to truly moral conduct (Kant 16).

With respect to fine actions, the will of a person is the only thing that can be considered virtuous, a good will, is intrinsically good. A good will is good not because of what it accomplishes, or because of its fitness to attain some proposed end. Kant argues that end cannot justify the means, and the means and the ends cannot take the place of will. Kant maintains that good will is necessary good, and fine actions are not performed for the sake of fine, but out of good will. It is fine for if an obligatory activity is carried out for the good will

However, Kant's idea of good is more compelling than that of Aristotle. This is because Kant addressed the concept of good in a collective manner via the categorical human being's imperatives. Kant suggests that to do an action from duty is to do it out of respect for moral law as opposed to doing it from any inclination or from any liking for the expected, actual or intended upshots of action (Tamborini 4). Some actions agreement with duty, but are done from emotions of sympathy and love. Such actions are fine and amiable and deserve inspiration and praise, but lack moral worth, and do not deserve esteem.

3. Hume claims that "moral distinctions [are] not deriv'd from reason" (title of T. Book III Part I Section I, p. 67), whereas Kant holds that "all moral concepts have their seat and origin completely a priori in reason" (Ak. 411). Explain why Hume and Kant disagree and how each supports his position. Which view do you find more convincing? Why?

Just like Aristotle, Kant deems that reason is, and should be the foundation of morality (Miller 256). Emotions, according to Kant, hinder true moral behavior, and for one to be truly moral, he/she must place the morality burden on cool, calculating reason instead of instincts and interests. Kant maintains that good will is derived from reason, and he stresses on the importance of basing morality in a priori standards.

On the contrary, Hume claims that there is no morality without feelings. He believes that emotion is a fundamental motivator for moral conduct. Hume ascertains that the emotions are the most important form of experience. Concepts are reflections of impressions and they are simply symbolic representations of the real environment (Hume 68).

Kant and Hume differ on how moral standards are derived. Kant explicates how moral standards and morality are normatively agreed upon, and he believes that moral principles are those that are agreed upon by all persons who use rationality as their foundation (Tamborini 4). He argued that moral principles cannot be realized through examining people's behavior, but they are derived purely through rationality and reason.

Hume's stance on discovery of moral principles varies from that of Kant. Hume positions morality on standards that are established apart from observation and experience. He focuses on discovering moral standards via a procedure of scientific observation. In his view, moral principles are established on empiricism and scientific method, which entails observing people's conduct. Hume's focus on empiricism instigates the social scientific morality study thereby moving the study from the dominion of philosophy to the science realm (Tamborini 4). Hume's technique of moral philosophy is empirical and experimental

Kant view on the discovery of moral principles is more convincing. This is because it is hard to discover a standard that commands all logical beings with such unconditional power via empirical moral philosophy method (Tamborini 4). As a result, the priori method is more practical than the empirical method given the fact that morality principles are categorical.

4. Kant and Mill agree that there are "perfect" duties (e.g. A duty not to kill others), but they derive those duties in very different ways. Give a detailed…

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