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Reasons for Doing Things Matter

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According to Kant, a good person has morality, freedom, dignity and is accountable for the things they do. Meaning, everything you do whether it is good or bad must have a reason. Acting as humans, there comes a reason and purpose for our choices. From picking our favorite candy bar at the movie theater to deciding what University we should attend, there is always a reason. To me, Kant is correct in the way he argues that you must recognize your obligation to do the right thing out of respect. If all human beings are worthy of respect, regardless of who they are then it is wrong to treat them as mere instruments of collective happiness. Some things are just simply right or wrong which is called, common sense knowledge. For instance, rape, slavery and genocide are all things that are morally bad. Helping someone with something, even if the action is not completed, it matters why you’re helping; which is morally good. It is possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason.

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For example, Kant mentions the shopkeeper. A child went into the grocery store to purchase a loaf of bread and the shopkeeper could have overcharged him, and the child would not have known. However, the shopkeeper chose not to do that for the sake of the business. The shopkeeper is only being honest for himself and not for his moral worth. In this example, the shopkeeper respected his duty because it was the right thing to do. He only did the right thing for his own sake because he had the obligation of spreading a rumor about the business. The immoral reason for the shopkeeper doing this is because the shopkeeper wants to be morally praised. To Kant, reasons are highly important only if they have reason. Another example of why reasons matter is not committing suicide when you have the idea to do so. Through Kant’s perspective committing suicide isn’t morally praised because its viewed morally wrong. I believe this is morally bad because the person committing suicide is not just escaping their own life, they’re making the lives of their loved ones much harder. This example of preserving one’s life is also recognizing the obligation to do the right thing out of respect. The person staying alive did not commit suicide because they directly wanted to. They preserved their life for their own sake simply because they wanted to stay alive.

However, even though the person that wanted to commit suicide wanted nothing, but death was respecting their duty by recognizing their good morality. He or she did the right thing for their own sake because they had an obligation to do so. According to Kant, reasons for doing things matter because the impact the moral worth. For instance, it’s only the morally right thing to do if you’re doing it to be morally right instead of doing it to be praised. Kant’s initial argument throughout his passage is that reasons for doing things matter. To an extent, I agree with his argument. Doing things matter if you have the right reason to do so, which makes you a good person because it’s the right thing to do. Kant also argues that rational beings can be morally good because they can be morally accountable for their actions.

Accountability is always equivalent with responsibility, when one is responsible, one can be held liable for your actions and your reason for doing so. If you have a just reason for your actions, you should be able to fulfill your actions if they are morally right. There is always means to an end and if your means are just, the end should always be morally correct. There are elements to Kant’s argument I agree and disagree with. The idea that you must have a reason to do something matters. You must have reason in order to not be impulsive. Impulsive actions can lead to actions that are not morally correct. However, I do believe that sometimes in order to survive you must make impulsive decisions in order to survive in the fast-paced world we live in today. An example of both claims could be getting a tattoo on a whim. On one side you may get the tattoo and end up hating it because you didn’t have a reason to get it. On the counter you may end up loving the tattoo and looking at it every day which will bring you happiness which is something everyone should be entitled to.

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Some people might disagree with Kant’s position without coming to an understanding of what his moral argument actually means. Kant thinks a person who does things for a good reason because they enjoy doing it, is not morally right. However, people could argue they are morally right because they genuinely enjoy helping others. For instance, morally right people enjoy treating others well, so they do it because they believe it’s right. They believe that’s how people should be treated not because they think it’s just a duty or just an obligation. Overall, doing things with reason definitely does matter. However, everything one does must have a reason for it to be morally correct. If there is reason when we do our moral duty, we wouldn’t be doing it out of respect, we would be doing it for some other reason. If we were doing something with genuine moral worth, it is because we want to. Both the moral worth in people and the value in everything we desire is morally obligatory in itself. All living human beings deserve respect because of the morality of people.

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