General form[ edit ] All variations of the argument from morality begin with an observation about moral thought or experiences and conclude with the existence of God.
Moral theories, he claims, all ultimately rest on three postulates: God, freedom, and immortality of the soul. If one wants to believe in and pursue the moral life, one ought to also accept these postulates as the a priori conditions for doing so. Why are these specific ideas so critical to morality?
In his view, morality is grounded in pure practical reason, which means that an action is morally good or morally bad not in light of its consequences — as utilitarians famously argue — but in light of the maxims on which it is based.
A maxim is moral if it can be reasonably endorsed as a universal principle. This is what Kant calls the Categorical Imperative. We should act according to a maxim only if it can be universalized.
The trouble here is that moral actions aim at achieving the highest good, and yet there is no guarantee that living the moral life will bring happiness.
This is something I think Kant is right about, too, since it often does seem that the moral choice is not always the fulfilling choice for us. Here is where Kant brings God into the picture. If morality is not an illusion, then there must be a harmonious relationship between virtue and happiness.
Thus he locates the cause in the noumenal realm, and identifies it with God. From this stem the other two postulates.
Instead of arguing for the existence of God, it argues for the necessity of belief in God, at least concerning morality.
Kant actually does not have much faith in the traditional philosophical arguments for God, considering them failures that could only deliver inadequate and underdeveloped ideas about first causes and greatest imaginable beings. First, there is no implication that atheists and non-theists cannot live moral lives.
What matters for Kant is duty to the moral law. Another unsuccessful objection, then, would be to raise the Euthyphro dilemma. This can also be expanded to include any objection that generally demands a defense of the foundations or ontology of ethics. One response would be to dispute the way Kant talks about morality having the highest good as its aim.
This is too tall of an order, the unbeliever may argue. What he envisions is a world with the greatest possible apportionment of virtue and happiness, and this is such a lofty idea for Kant that he has to come up with immortality to make it more palatable for us. In fact, if our starting point is naturalism, we can raise serious doubts against the prospects of attaining a world like that envisioned by Kant.
Agnostic philosopher Paul Draper has developed a version of the problem of evil that is strikingly similar to this, where he argues that the facts about biological pain and pleasure are so unrelated to moral obligations and the like that this gives us prima facie good reason for believing the universe is not the product of an all-good god, but is instead indifferent to suffering.
Of course, Kant would reject these sorts of claims, and likely say that moral duty comes prior to beliefs based in empirical evidence. However, that is a contentious view in its own right.
Alasdair MacIntyre makes this criticism in his book After Virtue. Some, he points out, have proposed to ground ethics in desires, while others have grounded them in religious beliefs.
We can conceive of a number of universalizable maxims that may be immoral and yet contain no apparent inconsistency. Are things any better if we think along the lines of treating people, including ourselves, as ends rather than as means?
What the new version seems to mean is that we should treat people as people, possessing their own will, instead of treating them as objects or instruments on which we exert our will.
Kant goes into some detail about how his moral philosophy follows from practical reason.Kant’s argument is not based on the nature of morality, like the formal moral argument, or on morality’s perfectionism, like the perfectionist moral argument; rather, it . Kant’s Moral Argument for the Existence of God ©Peter Sjöstedt-H – Immanuel Kant () – the ‘Godfather’ of modern philosophy – is generally revered for his three critical books: The Critique of Pure Reason (1 st), The Critique of Practical Reason (2 nd), and the Critique of Judgement (3 rd).
Kant's starting point was that we all have a sense of innate moral awareness: 'Two things fill the mind with ever new increasing admiration and awe the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me' His argument for the existence of God follows: 1.
We all have a sense of innate moral. The argument from morality is an argument for the existence of God.
Arguments from morality tend to be based on moral normativity or moral order. Arguments from morality tend to be based on moral normativity or moral order. Moral arguments for God’s existence form a diverse family of arguments that reason from some feature of morality or the moral life to the existence of God, usually .
The Kantian Moral Argument The best known moral argument is that of Immanuel Kant. Kant’s argument is not based on the nature of morality, like the formal moral argument, or on morality’s perfectionism, like the perfectionist moral argument ; rather, it is based on the rationality of moral behaviour.