The Moral Philosophy of Enlightenment PhilosophyJune 28, 2021
18-19. The rational orientation, which has the general character of the philosophy of the 19th century, inevitably turned to the field of morality as a result of the moral consequences of the social events.
The philosophers of this period; They tended to understand and interpret morality with the mind and spread their thoughts from this point. Among them, the views of Jeremia Bentham and Immanuel Kant are important.
Kant also deals with morality in the practical field and tries to explain it through reason. Like Bentham and many other thinkers, he tries to do this not with human nature but with the judgments of reason. In other words, it acts on moral judgments and concepts. In this way, his first task is to analyze the concept of “good will”. Kant; By the concept of the good will he understands the good will accompanying human actions that can always be considered right in all circumstances. Human; If he has wanted the good fully, with sincere decision, there is good will. Kant evaluates morality and the good not by the result of actions, but by the purpose behind them. It differs from utilitarian thinkers like Bentham in this respect.
Kant tries to develop the good will by using the concept of “duty” for morality. According to him, duty is the action that a person takes responsibility of his own will, the orders given by his heart and conscience. The thing that determines the duty is not someone else, but the person himself and his conscience. Homework carries a universal moral principle that applies to all people but is not dependent on anyone’s wishes and desires.
According to Kant, human actions are either against or in accordance with duty. It would be wrong to argue that every behavior deemed appropriate for the homework comes out of the homework. For example, a tradesman’s not deceiving people who shop for him is apparently a behavior appropriate to his homework. If he did this with the thought of not losing customers in the long run, this behavior is not due to homework. If he did this because he thought it was unethical to deceive others, it was out of duty. Kant proposes three moral principles. These are also known as Kant’s maxims.
Bentham predicts morality in the practical realm. He says that human nature is a person who avoids pain and seeks “pleasure”. He argues that this action, when done consciously with the mind, will give a person the quality of being virtuous. Someone who measures pleasure against pain, and pain against pleasure; He should turn to whichever one sees the most benefit. Bentham states that sometimes it is necessary to give up small pleasures to avoid big pains or small pains for big pleasures. According to him, happiness is in choosing his own action with his mind.
According to Bentham, evil results from making a wrong choice. A person who cannot adequately calculate between pleasure and pain causes evil to appear. He took actions because he wanted to be happy, but he did not keep the account. According to him, happiness is related to one’s environment. It is the right action for the benefit of the many, it is pleasurable and gratifying.
– “Act in such a way that the principle of behavior can be accepted as a universal law.”
– “Act in a way that makes humanity an end rather than a means in yourself and others.”
– “Always act in such a way that your wise will functions as a universal legislator.”
These maxims are the principles that enable the person to both act in accordance with the duty while acting and make the behavior come out of the duty. If the person acts in accordance with these principles, he will have acted in accordance with the duty.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook, MEB Philosophy Textbook