Philosophy Research Proposal Sample Paper on Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals
Kant believes in a moral and just society. The context of his question is based on prudence and right. Prudence is the question of that which is convenient for an individual. Thus this question stems from the mind striking question of; is it right to make a promise in order to exonerate self from an inconvenience that is forthcoming and break the promise once the misfortune has subsided. In other words, is a promise personalized or universalized? The person who makes the promise poses as one who makes sentiments based on individual interests, fear of portending dire consequences and personal concerns.
Secondly, Immanuel Kant addresses the aspect of morality which makes an individual obliged to keep the promise – this actually ties the persona in question to the obligation of keeping his promise – that is, backing his words with actions. This concept is more or less a law that one has to follow and can be universalized. Thus, any person who makes a promise is tied down to keep it. Both cases are valid in their own respects, though Kant poses a very valid question, which yield results that produce a clear answer to his premise of argument. Keeping promises as a matter of prudence deprives them the title of being called “promises.” This is because no individual would believe in them since everyone else who makes them will break them at some point. However, universalizing promises, that is, making promises that one can keep makes it acceptable because it can apply to everyone and is not subjective.
Kant’s answer to his question is that one should make a promise of which he has intentions to keep or one that he has the ability of keeping. He says, “I can say, by no means will that lying should be a universal law. For with such a law there would be no promises at all, since it would be in vain to allege my intention in regard to my future actions to those who would not believe this allegation (Kant, 2002, P. 63)” Thus, Keeping promise can be universalized and acts for the good of others and that of the person making the promise. Lying might be prudent for a time, but may bear dire consequences in the long run that may be a demerit to all parties.
To put it aptly, the concept of universalizability brought about by Immanuel Kant brainstorms into the concept of making promises and whether it is morally confining to keep the promises or it is a matter of convenience. There are basic questions to ask self while deriving the answer(s) to Immanuel Kant’s sets of questions, for one, what maxim or principle is followed in breaking of a promise or could rationality demand everyone to follow such a maxim and break promises? Kant’s words are very accurate in pin pointing the obligation of an individual to keeping of promises – he outlines the meaning of promise, which denotes that promises are not meant to be broken. “Should a promise be broken, then it means that such was not a promise at all. Whether it is prudent, or whether it is right, to make a false promise? The former may undoubtedly have be the case. I see clearly indeed that it is not enough to extricate myself from a present difficulty by means of this subterfuge, but it must be well considered whether there may not hereafter spring from this lie much greater inconvenience than that from which I now free myself…(Kant, 2002, P.64) ”
In conclusion, Immanuel Kant’s premise of argument is valid, promises ought to be made only if they are meant to be kept and not as a question of prudence. Breaking of promises bear dire consequences and cannot be universalized because promises will cease to be valid. That which is right is one that can be universalized and one would be comfortable if the same actions are applied to him.
Kant, Immanuel, Allen W Wood, and J. B Schneewind. Groundwork For The Metaphysics Of Morals. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. Print.