Lesson 2 Assignment 1


“Fourthly, as regards meritorious duties towards others: The
natural end which all men have is their own happiness. Now humanity
might indeed subsist, although no one should contribute anything to
the happiness of others, provided he did not intentionally withdraw
anything from it; but after all this would only harmonize negatively
not positively with humanity as an end in itself, if every one does
not also endeavor, as far as in him lies, to forward the ends of
others. For the ends of any subject which is an end in himself ought
as far as possible to be my ends also, if that conception is to have
its full effect with me.”

Immanuel Kant’s  Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals

(page 32; second section) http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?pageno=32&fk_files=3275637

We all have duties towards others. It is natural for all human beings to want happiness in the end. Humanity would still exist if no one contributed to the happiness of others, as long as no one intentionally took away from one’s happiness. Even though humanity would still exist, it would be negative for humanity as a whole if people didn’t help others towards achieving happiness in the end.

OPINION and INTERPRETATION:  Then tell us briefly why you selected this paragraph, what do you like or dislike about it, what’s your interpretation of its meaning?  If you have questions about it, ask them now.  If you have opinions about it, state them here.
Personally, I think that most of the paragraphs in this reading were a little difficult to interpret. I believe that the paragraph I chose is saying that it is a natural thing for all people to want their own happiness in the end. It also says that even though everyone wants to achieve their own happiness, people should also help others achieve happiness. It is basically saying that if everyone was selfish and only cared about themselves and their happiness, it would have a negative effect on humanity. One of our moral duties is to help others out.
I chose this paragraph because I 100% agree with it. I can’t image a world where no one helped each other out. I believe we have a duty as human beings to help others who need it. Not only is it a duty, but helping others out can bring us our own happiness. Knowing that you helped someone out and made them happy is such a great feeling. In certain situations we may have to be selfish, but only to a certain extent.


What is the difference between the categorical and hypothetical imperative? Do you agree with Kant that we must follow the categorical imperative when making moral choices? Why or why not?

Categorical imperative’s are universal laws and tell us what not to do. It commands us to not perform a certain action and it applies to everyone. Categorical imperative’s are actions that are moral. An example of a categorical imperative is to not steal from other people.

Hypothetical imperative’s only apply to people who want to achieve a goal of their choice. They tell us what to do in order to achieve that goal. It is a command that applies to us in virtue of our having a rational will and requires us to exercise our wills in a certain way in order to achieve an end. Hypothetical imperative’s are commands that we can choose to follow or not to follow.

I agree with Kant that we must follow the categorical imperative when making moral choices because the categorical imperative is always the right thing to do. Categorical imperative tells us to ask the question: Would all people in all comparable circumstances do the same thing? I believe it’s sort of like the saying “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Most people have the same morals as others.

What does Kant mean by dignity, intrinsic worth, and autonomy? How are these concepts related?  How are they different from your own understanding of these concepts?

Dignity is the quality of being worthy of honor or respect. Kant talks about how everything has either value or dignity. He states that whatever has a value can be replaced by something else which is equivalent. But, whatever has something about a value that can’t be replaced by something equivalent, has a dignity. Kant places dignity above all value. In the reading he states that an example of intrinsic worth is fidelity to promises. Therefore, I believe intrinsic worth are things such as trust and loyalty. Autonomy is the right or condition of self-government. It is the fact that we all have universal laws to follow.

One criticism of Kant’s ethical position is that it overemphasizes abstract principles and rules of justice and rationality over subjective emotions like empathy and love. Do you feel that this criticism is justified? Why or why not?

I think that this criticism is justified because I believe that most of our actions come from emotions such as empathy and love. Not all of our decisions are based on emotions, but they usually play an important part in most of them. In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, I read “moral worth appears to require not only that one’s actions be motivated by duty, but also that no other motives, even love or friendship, cooperate.” I strongly disagree with that because both love and friendship can play a huge role on some of the decisions we make. Having a certain “duty” to perform is not the only reasoning behind making moral decisions.



I chose this to photos of quotes because I thought they go very well with this section. The first is saying that true morality is doing what is right even if there is no reward in the end. I love this because people shouldn’t always do the right thing expecting something in return. The second one is saying that if you can’t decide whether or not a certain act is moral, ask yourself what the world would be like if everyone did it. I love this because it really puts morality into perspective. Imagine if everyone in the world thought it was OK to steal from others, lie all the time, or never help anyone out. It makes you wonder what things would be like if there was no such thing as laws or morality.


One thought on “Lesson 2 Assignment 1

  1. Nicely done. I liked how you defined the imperatives in your own words. So you do believe that we should follow the categorical imperative but what if they conflict with emotions of love and friendship? How is it possible to both follow a rule but then think well it doesn’t really apply with people I love or my friends. A rule is a rule, no?

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