Morality, Rationality and IntegrityCindy Ching
Cal Poly Pomona
Kant believes that there is a relationship between morality and rationality. He believes this because if we act on a maxim that cannot be universalized, then it means we are contradicting ourselves. I think this is a plausible topic because there may be some people who disagrees with his sayings and beliefs. Furthermore, Kant thinks that if you are irrational, then you act immorally. I think this makes sense because it would be incorrect if you are irrational but act moral. Lastly, integrity is always a virtue. I think this is true because integrity is the practice of what a person believes is right and correct. There can be many reasons why integrity can always be a virtue.
Relationship between Morality and Rationality
Dependence on the Two
Kant believes there is a relationship between morality and rationality. “An act is morally accepted if, and only if, its maxim is universalizable” (Shafer-Landau, 2010, p. 162). Kant believes that if we act on a maxim that cannot not be universalized, then we are contradicting ourselves. It would be assumed that it is alright to act a certain way, although we would not achieve our goal if others act the same as us. In other works, if one is to behave immorally, then it is said that we are reasoning badly. The would show that immoral conduct is irrational due to all the mistakes, and contradictory reasoning. “More than any other philosopher, Kant emphasized the way in which the moral life was centered on duty” (Hinman, L., 2016, p. 3). In addition, an amoralist challenged Kant on the belief that moral rules exist but does not care about them. The amoralist is someone to believe in right or wrong but does not believe in morality. Kant would probably respond to the challenge believing that you would act irrationality when you act contrary to your strongest reasons. Moreover, he would respond saying that if morality requires a person to do something, even if it’s dangerous, then you must do what you need to do. I think Kant would also disagree with the amoralist’s view. Furthermore, I think Kant’s views on the topic is plausible because some may not agree with his saying that if you act irrational then you are immoral, and vice versa. There are many ways for someone to argue about the topic, if they wanted to.
Is it irrational to act immorally?
“If moral duties really are categorical imperatives, then we act rationally when we act morally, and we act irrationally when we act immorally” (Shafer-Landau, 2010, p. 168). In other words, according to Kant, he thinks it is irrational to act immoral. Since he thinks this, Kant came up with a list for his argument for the irrationality of immorality. His argument included that if you are rational, then you are consistent. If you are consistent, then it means you obey the principle of universalizability. If you obey that, it means you act morally. Therefore, Kant believes that if you are rational, you act morally, and if you act immorally, then you are irrational. “An immoral act for Kant is one which, if we universalized it with the categorical imperative, will make the act impossible” (Sjostedt-H, 2007). It would make it impossible because the universalizing would contradict each other.
I think I can say that I do agree with Kant that it is irrational to act immoral. It makes sense to me that if you are rational, then you are moral, while if you are irrational, then you act immorally. For example, ‘I shall steal food if I cannot afford it.’ If this was to be universalized, it would mean that all the people can steal the food if they were not able to afford it. Then, it would be pointless to put a price on the food since everyone would steal it when they cannot afford it. This would lead to food being free and stealing the food would make no absolute sense. Therefore, it leads to a contradiction.
Integrity is a virtue and is the practice of what one believes that is right and correct. In the beginning, I was not sure if integrity was always a virtue. “While utilitarian think of benevolence as the central more virtue, Kant tout integrity” (Shafer-Landau, 2010, p. 170). After reading the book some more and researching, I think I can say that I agree that integrity is always a virtue because integrity connects with the principles we believe in. Integrity requires one to follow their principles even when doing so comes at a real cost. Kant believes that there is something admirable about integrity. It is also not the most important one and integrity is not the only moral virtue. “Integrity is worthy of our admiration only when it is tied to morally legitimate principles” (Shafer-Landau, 2010, p. 170). I think this is true because people of integrity can still be doing wrong things. It does not mean people of integrity would always be doing good things. Those refusing to make an exception to themselves is no guarantee that their principles are morally acceptable. “A ‘man of principle’ is not a man who understands a principle, but a man who understands, accepts, and lives by a principle. There are many reasons why integrity is a virtue” (Landauer, J. and Rowlands, J., 2001). The first reason would be that a person has to practice their beliefs if they are right, so it can benefit their own self. The second reason is that practicing integrity means your ideas will benefit your life. The last reason is to practice integrity to deal with other people.
In conclusion, Kant believes that there is a relationship between morality and rationality. Kant thinks that if one acts immorally, then it means that they are reasoning badly. If an amoralist was to challenge Kant, then he would respond saying that one would act irrational when one act contrary to their strongest reasons. In addition, Kant also believes that it is irrational to act immoral. I agree with him because it makes sense to me. If a person is rational, they would act moral, and vice versa. Lastly, Kant tout integrity. I believe integrity is always a virtue because integrity connects to the principles we believe in.
Shafer-Landau, R. (2015). The Fundamentals of Ethics. New York, NY: Oxford
The Ethics of Duty. (2016). Lawrence M. Hinman. Retrieved from
Kant’s Ethics. (2007). Peter Sjostedt-H. Retrieved from http://www.philosopher.eu/texts/kants-ethics-summary/
Integrity. (2001). Jeff Landauer and Joseph Rowlands. Retrieved from http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Ethics_Integrity.html