Morality As Expressing Freedom Kants Theory Philosophy

Essay add: 28-10-2015, 13:04   /   Views: 113

The text of the Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals by Immanuel Kant, explores the concerns of morality and freedom. One major philosophical question from Kant's work investigates whether morality is an expression of freedom rather than aiming at happiness. With-in Kant's writing it does seem as so that morality is an expression of freedom. Although one may never be able to understand what freedom is, it is always possible to assume that we have freedom. One of Kant's notions explains that we are "most free when we act moral"; therefore, to act moral we have to act off moral laws/ being lawful. In order to be lawful we have to act in accordance with/from autonomy. By being autonomous and governing ourselves were able to create moral laws which we ought to act on, which then in terms makes us independent from external forces/natural forces due to free will. Morality is freedom, as to being free, is to be moral. By understanding the correlations between morality, freedom, and autonomy; we are revealed to believe that morality expresses freedom.

To answer this philosophical question we first have to explore what freedom is to Kant. Kant's concept of freedom discourages against external forces. He believes a source of freedom is revealed when external forces do not interfere with any notions of our actions. To have freedom means we need to be solely independent from external forces. Therefore we have freedom when we are not controlled by external forces. An external force is another name for natural forces. Natural forces for Kant include: biological, physical, chemical and social/society forces that intervene with practical reasoning. External forces are able to take control of our freedom because one does not have the "capacity" or power to act over forces of nature that are generally shielded over us.

A major contradiction to Kant's work is proving that we are free. We can't prove that we are free because Kant says we can't prove that we follow or act upon internal forces. We can only prove that we are independent of external forces/natural forces. To be independent of external forces we need to act through autonomy. "The supreme condition of the will's conformity with universal practical reason is the idea of every rational being as a will which makes universal laws (Kant, 71). The formula of autonomy refers us to act on universal laws, but these universal laws have to be driven from ourselves with no interferences from external forces. This is what autonomy means; self-law. Being a law giver and giving yourself your own law is what illustrates independence from external forces. The formula of autonomy provides us with the assumption that we are free. When one uses their reason and free will to create universal moral laws to act upon is what necessitates our freedom. We are most free when we act on moral laws. Our moral laws that we act on cannot be based on experiences or actions that we already observed. A moral law has to be a "priori" idea. "Freedom would be identical with autonomy; and since autonomy is the principle of morality, a free will would be a will under moral law" (Paton, 41).

"The categorical imperative is the foundation to morality" (fleischacker,11/08/10). To understand morality we have to first look at what the categorical imperative is. The categorical imperative is what makes us act on universal laws and where our moral laws are derived from. A categorical imperative can be compared to commands or actions that you ought to do. You don't need a reason to complete these actions or act upon a law, you just do it. As compared to a hypothetical imperative which conforms you to do something because there's a means to something else; "If X then Y". Where as a categorical imperative explicitly stats; "Do X", you don't need means to complete the task, you just do it. We use the rules of the categorical imperative to "judge" the moral value of our actions. Morality is based off the intentions of duties and laws. "A good will is not good because of what it effects or accomplishes….. It is good through its willing alone (Kant, 4). The main source of morality comes from common sense views. "Morality can't be drawn up from experience, things are only true that are not based on experience" (Fleischacker,11/08/10). The ultimate goal of moral actions or being moral is to "preserve all beings that act morally" (Fleischacker,11/08/10). To have morality one needs to pursue the good will (acting in accordance to laws) of duty, which is produced by reason that supplies rules for what we know. Reason and duty are what computes freedom. Reason alone has "intrinsic dignity" that influences the human heart to get us to act (Fleischacker,11/08/10).

The heart of answering this philosophical question lies in the correlations between morality and freedom which are tied together through autonomy. "Morality and freedom imply each other" (Fleischacker,11/08/10). We need to be free to be moral humans or to have moral laws apply to us. We have to assume that we are free to have morality. We become moral beings because we have freedom of the will. Although Kant never explain how to be moral, he defends his position by concluding if we have to assumption that we have freedom, then in turn morality is tied to freedom through autonomy. Through Kant's own views of morality and freedom, yes he believes that morality does indeed express freedom and not happiness. He believes this because freedom and morality are both interchangeable terms. If morality where too express happiness, an action could only be morally good if it maximizes happiness for the greatest amount of people. If you act autonomous by being a self law giver and exclude all external forces to act on the rules of the categorical imperative then morality is attributed through the same meaning of freedom because we excluded external forces making us independent of external forces. Morality is an expression of our freedom.

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