Immanuel Kant focuses mainly on the role of duty. He believes that actions can be in accord with duty or be from duty. Duty is defined as an action which we are obligated to perform out of respect for the moral law. Moral law is practical reason, which is in every rational person, though some people are more aware of it than others. Moral law is having the knowledge of the difference between good and evil, and an inner conviction that we should do what is good. The concept of duty includes good will. Good will is good without qualification; it is good in itself and good through willing alone. It comes from an instinct within us and cannot be denied. Good will can be seen in moderation, self-control and sober reflection.
There are things in everyday life that have to do with duty. We are innately born with the capacity to learn right from wrong. Every single human being is molded by their parents, teachers, and anyone else who is a part of their life, from there on is how we determine what is good and what is evil. It is my duty to preserve my life. This idea works because there are many people there are many people who hate their lives and yet they will still keep their life dear to them. These people are not doing it for self satisfaction; it is just their duty to live on. A man who longs for death because his life is full of disappointment and misery, he still preserves his life even without loving it. This does not come from inclination or fear, it springs from duty.
Kant discusses the two laws that are produced by reason. The first law is the hypothetical imperative; a rule of action for achieving that end. For an example if you wish to buy a new house, then you must determine which houses are available to buy. There is no way that it can be hypothetical because our actions cannot be moral on the ground of some restrictive desire or goal. Morality depends on an unconditional explanation of one’s duty. The second law is the categorical imperative, there are a few ways that Kant tries to describe this imperative to ultimately merge this moral theory altogether so if it possesses a sensible will, people are set off in the native order of things. Firstly, one must act according to their maxim; believing that it will eventually become a universal law. Secondly, you must act as if your maxim is to become a universal law, and thirdly, for your maxim to treat humanity fairly, yourself and others in the end must know this moral law, otherwise it fails the universality test. For an example, consider the person who needs to borrow a pair of shoes. The maxim that could be elicited is “when I need a pair of shoes, I will borrow them, and promise to give them back, even though I don’t have intensions of doing so.” When we implement the universality test to this maxim, it becomes definite that if everyone were to operate in this mode, the meaning of promising would be debilitated. How can the borrower make a promise when his/her maxim is that there is no such thing as a promise? His/her actions are defeated by the universality test.
The first altercation for the establishment of the categorical imperative can be thought of in this way; in order to be good, remove inclination and contemplation of any distinct goal from our motivation to act. Our act cannot be good if it is derived from subjective impulse. It also cannot be good because if it delves for some particular goal that might promote the good we seek or could come about through an event that could have been arranged although it was really coincidental. We must draw away from all hoped for effects. If we discard subjectivity and particularity from incentive we are only left with will to universality. The question, “What rule arbitrates what I ought to do in this situation?” remodels to “what rule ought to ubiquitously guide action?” All we can do in any locality of moral option is to act correspondingly to a maxim that we would desire everyone to act indisputably.
The second rendering of the categorical imperative bring forward the representation of nature, it is obvious that the mind possibly formats nature; and reason, when trying to find a better means of resolution; it attempts to perfect a premise of nature. An advisor for us in moral doings is to think of what would not be within reach to desire universally. Maxims that fail the criterion of the categorical imperative spawn a discrepancy. Laws of nature can’t be adverse. If a maxim cannot be willed to be a law of nature, it’s not moral.
The third side of the categorical imperative links Kant’s whole moral theory together. If the theory has a sensible will, people are more likely to take in the natural order of things. They aren’t entirely subject to the affiliates that act upon them; they are not particularly means to ends. Means and end are cases which are in greater or lesser incongruence with one another all through their advancement. It is a fundamental process of continual conformance of both means and ends in the light of experience. Until, at the culmination of the process, means and end combine in a form of life-activity, which is both its own end and its own means. The controversy of means and ends are revealed in certain maxims which express features of the argumentation in a one-sided or limited way. Kant debates that they are ends in themselves. All means to an end have a just conditional equivalence because they are precious only for achieving something else.
Good will is innate, and from good will there is reason and duty. The categorical imperative explains how “the means justify the end” is not a legitimate statement in some cases because it does not agree with moral law. People are just using means to ultimately get something out of the situation. According to Kant if you have intensions and desires for your own self-satisfaction, that is not duty. You must do something for the sole purpose of itself and itself alone. If you do pick up that piece of trash on the ground just for the sake of picking it up, that is from duty. Kant made many valid points as to how duty can be executed and what actions do not count as being a form of duty. All means to an end is more of a personal and self-satisfying saying. The role of duty must have maxims because if other beings do not agree with them, then there would be no meaning to what we were trying to implement. In the end, I find it hard to actually find a life-activity that would be considered duty.