Morality in Kant’s, Mill’s, Aristotle’s Philosophies

Kant’s views about the nature of morality and how it is related to intellect

Kant is one of the early philosophers who produced a number of works on human nature. In his talks, Kant described and stipulated on regarding morality depicts rational self-determination as the highest moral value in human life. In his opinions about mortality, Kant goes against the philosophers who came before him, for instance, Pascal. Kant claimed that moral law was not enacted to restrict people from one bad thing or another, as many people tend to believe, but rather to facilitate the demand for obedience. Obedience was the main consideration; it was perceived as a sole reason for enacting moral law in society (McDowell 84). Kant states that “Nothing can possibly be conceived in the world or out of it that can be called good without qualification except a good will.” This meant that “good will” can only be good if it goes beyond duty and not only when people are on duty. Therefore, by declaring this, today, Kant’s theory influences judges concerning making good judgments when it comes to people’s “Will.”

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As a matter of fact, people strive to do their best when at work and mostly they portray their good will, but end up in engaging in immoral behaviours outside their workplace.

For this reason, Kant came up with various judgments concerning people’s morality and behaviour. These are associated with people’s intelligence because a keen and intelligent person who morally upright portrays his/her good will at and off work. Kant adds that “good will” can only be considered good if executed in a respectful manner. Without respect, there can never be “good will” among members of the family, or relatives or even workmates.

Based on the moral perspective presented above, Kant gave the world the first principle of morality, which states, “Let the law be the sole ground or motive of thy will.” In reference to this principle, Kant states that a neighbour, a family member or a colleague can judge you concerning your “Will”, but the law is the only mechanism that is fair enough when it comes to identifying people’s “goodwill.” From the law-abiding point of view stated, Kant, draws the first primary principle of morality which stipulates that “Act so that the maxim [determining motive of the will] may be capable of becoming a universal law for all rational beings.” According to Kant, the nature of human morality is largely dependent on people’s obedience and respect; these virtues are derived from individuals and can only be judged by the law (Allison 97).

Kant declares that when a person acts by duty, he/she acts from a “national objective“. Portraying a “good will” regardless of one’s duty constitutes moral worthiness of human beings. Therefore, a morally worthy person is one who acts according to a “good will” and with obedience/respect to others.

Mill’s views about the nature of morality and how it is related to intellect

John Stuart Mill was an English philosopher who lived between 1806 and 1873 and had the greatest influence on speakers of the English language in the world. Mill was a Utilitarian, and in his work regarding morality and its relationship to the intellect, he declares happiness as the most fundamental principle of morality. Mill ended up making a conclusion supporting happiness as the primary principle of morality; he declared that “the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people was the highest goal for which everyone should strive”. This is a true declaration even when it is used in a hypothetical life situation. Mill achieved his vision by making happiness the most valuable thing in life and also making it the greatest principle of morality.

According to Mill, most actions, whether right or wrong, have a positive or negative impact. When reviewing these issues, he defines the term ‘Utilitarian’ and in his definition he states that “the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness ”. In his argument, Mill tries to bring out the dominance of human beings over animals; he says that pleasure that is achieved by animals differs from that achieved by human beings (Allison 102).

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Mill justifies his argument regarding the differences between human beings and animals by stating that the conception of human beings’ happiness is never satisfied by the pleasure of the beast. In addition to that, he argues that faculties possessed by human being are more eminent than the appetite of animals. When the animal’s appetite is satisfied, it do not think about other things like happiness whereas the satisfaction or fulfillment of human pleasure is considered to be happiness. “[T]here is no known Epicurean theory of life which does not assign to the pleasures of the intellect, of the feelings and imagination, and of the moral sentiments, a much higher value as pleasures than to those of mere sensation”. Therefore, according to Mill, the nature of human morality relies considerably on their happiness and it has great influence on human mental power.

Aristotle’s views about the nature of morality and how it is related to intellect

Aristotle also was an early philosopher who researched on real issues of life. His work regarding morality is centered on happiness, just like Mill’s; however the difference is that Aristotle views happiness from a different perspective. According to him, he claims that, “values are natural and objective”. He specifies that anything on Earth is valuable, because its value can be calculated by human beings and at the same time be assessed by a decisive person in different ways. With this ability, human beings can use the concept “Prima facie.” Aristotle used this concept to show that an object can be bigger than another and one action can be considered good while another is bad. It is a measuring technique that enables one to detect what is good and what is bad so that he/she can easily maximize his/her good deeds and it leads to a happy life.

According to Aristotle, naturalist ways of evaluating issues can be considered intricate because sometimes the objects are specified and created differences can destroy their value. Thus, values can be said to vary subjectively and this means that the observable facts have aspects which have contradictive objectives (McDowell 82). For this reason, Aristotle encourages human beings to take time and understand objects before assessing their values.

Human intellect uses the judgment skills of differentiation to decide between a number of objects that instantiate evaluative qualities that are different when fairly assessed as ‘fine’, ’useful’ and ‘pleasant’. In the physical world, values are natural and objectively instantiated and human beings can use their intellect to choose the best among the given number of objects. Therefore, Aristotle concludes that it is through this intellectual way that human beings manage to rise above the values that are dubious, making them perfect, and thus creating beautiful forms of humanity.

The most reasonable philosopher among the three

In-reference to the description of the three early philosophers who tried to give their different arguments concerning their thoughts on principles of morality and how they are related to human intellect, Aristotle stands out as the most reasonable one and the one with practical ideas. This can be seen from the manner he approaches issues and how he relates them with the real world (Allison 61). Unlike the other two who centred on one principle and did not give the origin of that principle; Aristotle goes beyond his ideas and informs the world about happiness and how to achieve it in life. In addition to his profound thoughts, the theory he suggested seems to be more practical because he used examples found in the today’s society. He goes ahead and classifies the three main types of souls that he believes every person has. These souls include;

The rational soul; which is the portion of thinking within every human being that discerns real things from merely visible things in the world (McDowell 67). The spirited soul is a soul that controls or facilitates the activation portion of human actions. The appetitive soul is a soul that is within every person and makes people feel like evaluating many things on earth. According to Aristotle, if human beings had to strongly apply self control, they would end up doing just a few things compared to the things they desire. This clear and well-focused analysis of the theory makes Aristotle the most reasonable scholar among the three philosophers.

The problems with the critiques of other two philosophers

Kant and Mill have not been very reasonable concerning their philosophical view of the relationship between morality and intellect. This can be seen from the fact that they have not fully talked about things that are relevant to human life and where the intellect is applied. In addition to that, Kant claims that the fundamental principle of morality is self determined whereby he does not fully analyze what causes self determination and what affects it.

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On the other hand, Mill also claims that happiness is the fundamental principle of morality but he does not provide an in-depth analysis of happiness but rather goes ahead and talks about Utilitarian which is another virtue in human life. Even if Kant attempted to give more clarification on his suggested fundamental principle of morality stating that people are selfish in nature because they mostly care about themselves, he failed to fully explain how this impacts human intellect. He claims that it is because of this selfishness that people tend to love themselves and they love others due to the dire mutual needs that make human beings useful to the globally existing race.

The strengths of Aristotle as a most reasonable philosopher

The approach used by Aristotle in describing the fundamental principle of morality and its relation to human intellect, makes him the most reasonable and practical philosopher among the three. He gives a full and detailed description of what the virtues of souls in human beings constitute; Aristotle also attempts to explain the main virtues in the human souls. According to him, every human being has three souls which correspond to the main classes of citizens in any given society. He claims that each of these three souls has its contribution to the success of peoples’ functions in life. The three souls of human virtues as per Aristotle’s perception are;

The rational soul

This is the portion of thinking within each human being that discerns real things from merely apparent things in the world. This soul is the source of human intellect and is mostly referred to as human mind. It enables people to make judgment as to what is true and what is false; what is good and what is bad. Therefore, people’s decision is mainly based on this soul (McDowell 67).

The spirited soul

This is a soul that controls or facilitates the activation portion of human actions. It can as well be referred to as the soul of volition or will. This soul functions closely with the rational soul in that, after a person has exhaustively used his/her understanding to identify good from bad, the spirited soul dictates the body’s movement in order to justify practical issues in a person’s life. Therefore, this soul gives the body the courage to do what has been considered to be right by the intellect and how to perform it in the best way.

The appetitive soul

This is a soul that is within every person and makes him/her feel like she/he wants to test many things on earth. It is what is referred to as human desire and it exists in form of emotions. According to Aristotle, if human beings have to strongly apply self control, they would end up doing just a few things and all things they desire.

Conclusion

The three early philosophers’ used different approaches to give their opinions on what they thought were the fundamental principles of morality. Through their approaches and opinions, it is easy to tell that human intellect or thinking is based on very little things in life that people take for granted and end up in ruining their lives. Through the above description, it is depicted that Aristotle was the most reasonable philosopher among the three. This is because he used a detailed and wide approach to get to a conclusion regarding morality and how it affects the way people think (Allison 42). The other two philosophers were limited in their reasoning compared to Aristotle because their approaches means were superficial to some extent. Based on the opinions provided by the three early philosophers, human beings should understand the things that have impact on their intellects. The approach used by Aristotle in describing the fundamental principle of morality and its relationship to human intellect, makes him the most reasonable and practical philosopher among the three. He gives a full and detailed description of what the virtues of souls in human beings constitute; Aristotle also attempts to explain the main virtues in the human souls. According to him, every human being has three souls which correspond to the main classes of citizens in any given nation.

Works Cited

Allison, Henry. Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals: A Commentary, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print.

McDowell, John. The engaged intellect: philosophical essays, New York: Harvard University Press, 2009. Print.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, November 17). Morality in Kant's, Mill's, Aristotle's Philosophies. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/morality-in-kants-mills-aristotles-philosophies/

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