Essay Example: The Evolution of Moral Philosophy and its Effects on Human Freedom

Published: 2024-01-05
Essay Example: The Evolution of Moral Philosophy and its Effects on Human Freedom
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Philosophy Slavery Immanuel Kant
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1746 words
15 min read

Among the various social phenomena, 'morality' or 'ethics' is the most crucial. The criticality of this phenomenon stems from the fact that humans are social beings. The term morality refers to the culture and rules of conduct that are considered vital to society. Many communities in the world have diverse philosophical ideologies on ethical values. Such ethical values have established history, and distinctive traits, and are interpreted by different moral theories (Capron and Alexander 397). Throughout history, expert philosophers have attempted to comprehend the fundamental role of morals in society using particular philosophical ideas. However, these ideas have mainly prioritized the notion that an individual possesses freedom of morality. This essay's central theme explores how moral philosophy has existed and flourished for thousands of years while probing the query as to whether these moral values have influenced the freedom of humans or enslaved them.

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All humans have a moral obligation. Studying ethical philosophies is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it helps distinguish between right and wrong, the basic fundamental of ethics. Further, it is useful in obtaining knowledge of moral values, which helps determine an individual's ethical obligations to other people in society. Additionally, it empowers humans to reflect upon and talk about challenging moral issues.

Moreover, it can propel a person's journey into understanding themselves better and learning how they reason. Finally, it provides significant free will for people to perform different day-to-day activities (Bennis et al. 187- 202). Notably, these ethical values may hinder people from freedom, thus enslaving them. However, the benefits of moral values outweigh their disadvantages; hence they should be supported.

Numerous philosophies attempt to enlighten people on moral values and provide guidelines used to understand morals fully. The perspectives also explain the morals' strengths and challenges when understanding these values' overall subject. The two major early moral philosophical theories are utilitarianism and the morality of freedom. John Mills, a renowned philosopher, explores the benefits of respecting ethical rules in his 'Utilitarianism' philosophy. The philosophy asserts that maximization of happiness is every individual's responsibility and that everyone has a duty to promote society's overall well-being (Mill and John 131). However, Mill's utilitarianism notion of independence in moral values is subject to argument. It views moral values from different perspectives, hence giving people the freedom to choose what moral values to abide by.

John Mill's utilitarianism theory reduces the weight applied to reason, hence guaranteeing everyone's best interest. However, there are some challenges in utilitarianism. Firstly, the fact that the theory heavily relies on a person's motivation to attain happiness is subjective since people have different perceptions of satisfaction (Bayefsky and Rachel 812). Another problem with utilitarianism is that it focuses on an individual's results (other actions that cannot be predicted). The individual results ultimately fail to distinguish moral actions' consequences, thus hindering people's moral independence (Bayefsky and Rachel 812).

Another standard philosophical theory that explains moral values is Immanuel Kant's philosophy of 'Moral Freedom.' It describes that moral values are an essential aspect of human life as moral values are applied as tools useful in attaining various objectives (Kant and Immanuel 73). Kant's philosophy's primary concern is explaining the aim and significance of the 'Categorical Imperative' (CI) principle. The principle is described as the 'supreme principle of morality' because moral values have to be followed in all circumstances, regardless of situations (Kant and Immanuel 71). Kant states that any deed is morally wrong if it does not respect the categorical imperative. He also notes that people should focus on the reasons for performing an act rather than the outcomes because the effects of actions are less significant.

Additionally, Kant believes that their morality level is measured by their actions rather than their effects. Thus, according to Kant, an individual's morality is dependent on their ethical principles, which determine their actions. Therefore, morality is not influenced by an individual's outcomes. Essentially, Kant's philosophy recognizes that all moral principles must be followed for one to attain morality. Moreover, he adds that ethical values must be observed regardless of any action's result and circumstances (Bayefsky and Rachel 814). He also states that there needs to be goodwill for every effort. Therefore, any selfish act achieved by an individual does not constitute good morals.

Notably, Kant asserts that the reasons for action are more important than the results of the action. The philosophy's fundamental aim is to proclaim the importance of goodwill, the notion of an individual performing a good deed regardless of its effects. Goodwill depends on following moral rules without focusing on any specific act (Bayefsky and Rachel 816). Thus, for people to have goodwill, their decision-making must be affirmed by moral needs. Essentially, Kan's philosophy states that free goodwill ensures ethical requirements. Therefore, an individual has the right to decide whether or not to perform deeds out of goodwill.

In Kant's theory, free will ensures everyone has a moral responsibility and does not deny any person their free will. Therefore, Kant's morality study on the Categorical Imperative relates to autonomy and rationality (Kant and Emmanuel, 69). Consequently, this example illustrates that every rational person should follow and respect ethical guidelines. Kant's Categorical Imperative study argues that individuals who try to understand the moral theory fails since it enslaves them, thus preventing goodwill and proper actions (Bennis et al. 192).

Despite giving people the freedom to act out of goodwill Kant's theory is challenged for various reasons. Firstly, some people argue that the view is unreasonable. For example, lying may be the best way out of a challenging situation. However, Kant maintains that an individual must not be dishonest, even when the effects of dishonesty are unfavorable (Bayefsky and Rachel 814). Secondly, the theory is unrealistic because it expects human beings to follow all moral values extraordinarily.

Additionally, Kant's study disregards reason as he fails to be concerned with action's outcomes, like when a person does wrong in the context of performing a good deed (The ends justify the means). In such a situation, the moral decision is influenced by one's reasoning, not the case. Consequently, the moral independence discussed by Kant is, in some way, vague, enslaving in terms of freedom, and immaterial making it difficult to comprehend his theory on the categorical imperative.

Importantly, Kant's philosophy has significant advantages. The theory emphasizes other people's recognition by stating that a person's significance in another's life is dependent on how they respect others (Bayefsky and Rachel 810). Respect ensures that moral deeds are followed consistently and impartially. Further, the theory recognizes that everybody possesses central worth, thus respecting dignity for human life. Finally, the idea provides independence, justice, and fairness by creating a framework that respects all human beings' intrinsic value by ensuring equal rights are conferred to everyone.

The two early moral theories, Kant's and Mill's, have significant differences. Mill's utilitarianism theory states that when a person increases performing goodwill deeds, they are deemed morally right. In contrast, Kant's morality of freedom says that the acts must not positively affect. Additionally, utilitarianism states that each action is followed by happiness; hence moral values maximize an individual's satisfaction (Mill and John 129). On the other hand, Kant's theory states that all moral values must be followed to constitute morality.

Further, utilitarianism heavily rests on the deeds while the morality of freedom depends on moral values such that its preference depends on personal pleasures. Finally, utilitarianism allows every person to measure their moral worth. However, the morality of freedom stipulates moral values to be followed.

Generally, moral values have benefited all human beings as moral values are guidelines for every individual to follow. However, in some instances, people typically feel these values tramp their democratic independence on things they should be doing (Bennis et al. 12). A good illustration is Kant's theory, where ethical needs regard moral values without the consequences being considered (Bennis et al. 190). Utilitarianism also possesses no justification for the violation of rationality; some people feel that this theory's rules have a framework that objectively denies independence and disregards their ability to decide on actions to be performed.

Notably, early moral philosophical theories deny independence and freedom. However, freedom from virtuous deeds is helpful in numerous ways. Such a need for moral freedom led to the evolution of deontological into consequential theories. The resulting views relate well-being with good, happiness, and pleasure. Additionally, they provide independence to people because people are free to do good deeds as applicable (Kant and Immanuel 72). Further, they focus on the morality of acts such that one is free to do what they consider moral (Bennis et al. 192). Additionally, consequential theories follow real justification for actions by allowing individuals to achieve reasonable moral responsibility (Kant and Immanuel 71).

The consequential theories allow people's independence by enabling people to figure and reason out their acts without being denied the freedom to make decisions (Lowry et al. 263). Hence, the theories assume that every rational person enjoys independence and goodwill in their deeds. On the other hand, the deontological theories denied people's freedom, although similar rational human beings had to act strictly according to external rules and guidelines (Kant and Immanuel 70). Essentially, the central objective of morality should be the ability for individuals to enjoy their moral actions even whether they follow ethical rules or not.

The slavery notion, since its conception by early theories, was accepted by the majority as a necessary, inevitable, and natural character of society. However, in modern times, the notion is a framework of an institutional system that is morally wrong (Mathews and Donald 1790). The slavery notion was popular, clearly followed, and only objected towards the eighteenth century's end. After the century, there was a rise of radical arguments on morality about the continuance of slavery. Existing systems were vehemently criticized and dismantled, leading the institution to be abolished, but not without struggle (The Civil War).

The categorical shift towards ending slavery in ethical perception was due to the era's moral agency and organizers' characteristics and advocates of the abolition struggles (Kaufmann and Matthias 201). The movement succeeded due to activists, sympathizers, and governmental representatives who had become consequential in their triumph due to the willpower of activists, sympathizers, and governmental representatives. The majority of the people involved in the struggle finally acknowledged the real evil (ethically) of the nature of slavery and, in turn, were motivated to reject the practice. The transformation was approved by many philosophers who had explored the morality of the rule of slavery.

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