PREAMBLE : In this module’s discussion board, you will make a substantial contribution of about 700-750 words, responding to one of the questions that were raised in the final lecture of the module (they are represented below). Your contribution should be a “considered opinion.”
By “considered opinion,” I mean that (a) you take some time to think about what you are saying, (b) your opinion is based on a critical assessment of Kant’s grounding of a metaphysics of morals, (c) it is clearly expressed and based on an argument. You’ll want to demonstrate that you’ve grasped the central ideas, that you can express your understanding of them clearly, and that you can agree or disagree with them through an argument. The questions are broad, and there is no “right” answer—so your contributions will be evaluated on the basis of evidence of a critical engagement with the ideas and the texts, demonstrated through correct use of conceptual vocabulary and citation. Your ideas and the expression of them should also be original to you and contribute something—namely, your unique perspective—to the conversation. Those merely repeating what others have to say or uncritically agreeing with their comments can aspire to an average grade at best.
THE QUESTIONS. The questions are discussed in the final lecture of the module (which you should review), and reprinted here in slightly expanded form. Choose whichever motivates you the most, cogitate on it for a while, and post it to the DB. Note that you do not need to answer every little sub-question within the question—they are just meant to stimulate thought and help you focus your ideas:
Should there even be an a priori principle of moral action and ground of obligation? Is a rational a priori basis for moral action desirable? Are we indeed “obligated” to others? More broadly, is an absolute moral principle desirable, or should we accept a relativity with respect to the idea of morality? Is Kant right to be worried about moral relativism?
Kant has a stringent and demanding view of morality, insisting that we must disregard outcomes, no matter how ‘good’ they may be, and focus on the moral goodness of the principle of the action. Only those principles that conform with duty are morally good, and only actions arising from such principles have moral worth. Consequentialists disagree, and insist that actions are morally good if the consequences benefit a majority of people. So, in your view, do the ends justify the means, or is Kant right that it is the principle that matters?
Can reason obligate us at all ? Is the idea of a rational command or imperative deriving analytically from the universal concept of the rational being in general sufficient, in your view? Can reason really “make” us do anything at all?
Is Kant’s critical-philosophical rational framework adequate for accounting for the phenomenon of guilt? Are there other ways to absolve ourselves of guilt? And what role does guilt play with respect to moral perfection?
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