Kantian ethics


In the field of philosophy , Kantian ethics plays and plays a very important role for the human being in general, because when he manages to understand it, it can be understood that basically we move thanks to it, in addition to being the reason to be of man in the actuality. This ethics is considered as a formal science which makes it different from other theories and is based on the question what should I do?


What is Kantian ethics?

Kantian ethics is a deontological theory that is based on the position that says that the only good thing that exists is the will and that for this reason, an action can only be good if its underlying principle is in accordance with the moral law .

  • features
  • Principles of Kantian Ethics
  • Summary explanation
  • Relationship with utilitarianism
  • Applications of Kantian Ethics
  • Review
  • Kantian Ethics Today
  • Importance
  • Examples


Among the most important characteristics of Kantian ethics are the following:

  • In Kantian ethics, philosophy will always be the answer.
  • It encompasses the events that happen for specific purposes and that are related to human reason.
  • It was based on a kind of transcendental idealism .
  • It places the human being as the center of the universe and that it has the ability to filter and modify the reality it knows.
  • It establishes the term ” a priori ” that indicates everything that does not come from experience but from what is derived from the faculties of an individual.
  • It establishes a notable difference between the phenomenon that occurs and the noumenon .
  • It has a categorical imperative .
  • It was created by Immanuel Kant who is considered one of the most influential intellectuals that have existed within the field of political philosophy .

Principles of Kantian Ethics

There are three fundamental principles that are included within Kantian ethics. These principles are as follows:

  • Principle of universality : this principle argues that an action can be acceptable from the moral point of view only when the principle that sustains it is the duty to the moral law .
  • Principle of purpose : this principle tells us that any action that is taken rationally must put before it, in addition to a principle, a purpose . It tells us that humanity must be treated as an end in itself and that it must act in a way in which humanity can be treated as an end and not only as a simple means .
  • Principle of autonomy : in this principle it is affirmed that the moral actor has the obligation to continue with the categorical imperative due to rationality and not only because of an external influence and it focuses mainly on the autonomy that the moral actor has . 

Summary explanation

Kantian ethics is a type of theory that is based mainly on deontology and whose fundamental principle is that the morality that an action has should not be based on its consequences but on the aspect of whether this action is correct or not, of according to the group of rules that exist.

Relationship with utilitarianism

There is actually little relationship between utilitarianism and Kantian ethics. The first of them affirms that the things that cause an action to be correct is mainly the amount of happiness it can cause and this includes personal happiness and that of others, however, for Kant, justice does not depend on the consequences but of action and universal law. In this way, the main similarity that can exist between them is that there is always an objective good which can be sought and both presuppose a clear distinction between what is good and what is bad .

Applications of Kantian Ethics

Kantian ethics can be applied in the following areas:

  • Medical ethics. According to Kant’s ethics, a doctor should be happy if his techniques are used on anyone. It asserts that the requirement of autonomy gives a patient the ability and the right to make an informed decision about their treatment. In this field, Kantian ethics affirms that all medical research must be motivated primarily by respect for the patient and that for this reason, they must be well informed.

It also includes all human beings are treated independently and with dignity always offering a foundation of such ethical to improve the relationship between patients and doctors.

  • Sexual ethics . In this field, Kantian ethics affirms that the human being must at all costs avoid acts that could harm man, such as suicide and sexual degradation . Everything related to commercial sex is criticized because it turns both parties into mere objects.
  • Animal ethics . In this field, Kantian ethics is mainly applied to the fact that cruel treatment against animals is wrong, since man’s behavior in these types of acts can exert an influence on the attitudes they have with other human beings.
  • In the labor field . Kantian ethics have a type of belief that provides protection to employees of companies and consumers of products. It implies that they cannot exploit consumers or workers in order to obtain benefits and that this benefit must be used to satisfy all interested parties.


The main criticism that has been made of Kantian ethics is that not every universal maxim can be moral and these maxims can then turn out to be trivial or even abnormal when they are presented before some scenarios. For this reason, experts consider that not every universal maxim should become a duty of the human being. Furthermore, it is not clear what is the best way to differentiate the obligations and moral nature of the social labels or the customs of men.

In addition, Kantian ethics is very formal and offers little advice related to practical issues , in some of its stages it is possible to discern what should not be done, but what should be done is not said. It is also very rigorous avoiding giving emotion to moral life and not allowing any type of exception to moral laws . Philosophers and psychologists believe that the basic conception of this type of ethics is based on psychological dualism and that for this reason it can enter into hedonism or rigorism .

Kantian Ethics Today

Many of the issues that have been covered in Kantian ethics are actually important today and in many areas of human life, mainly because it speaks to the duty of man as an objective law which must be fulfilled to respect the law. law. Today, Kantian ethics can be observed in many aspects of daily life.


Kant’s ethics is considered important because it exerted an extremely important influence on the thought of humanity through the exploration and study of the main categories on which modern man is founded: individuality , autonomy and universality. , aspects that together make up modernity. Thanks to his thinking, human societies have managed to build universal ideas in order to maintain the social contract .


Some examples of Kantian ethics are as follows:

  • The application of euthanasia in society, for Kant, the important thing is to act according to the feeling depending on the desire to live or die that one has.
  • It is applied in moral acts such as not killing and not lying .

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