What is Homework Ethics, Kant’s Conception of Homework Ethics

What is Homework Ethics, Kant’s Conception of Homework Ethics

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Immanuel Kant “What is a moral action?” was concerned with the question. Kant’s answer to this question has a great place in philosophy under the name of “Homework Ethics”. Before a behavior is done, the purpose (intention) of that behavior is important. The intention here is only to realize the pure good (intention) for himself, in accordance with the duty. Only good is that which is in accordance with reason and law. This thought of Kant is called the morality of homework (the morality of goodwill).

According to Kant’s understanding of morality of duty, universal moral law is possible. However, such a law is possible if it is in a structure that includes what should be, not what is like the law of nature.

This law is realized by the will that exists within us. This is autonomy. The law of autonomy is to be within oneself, with which freedom emerges. In other words, man determines his own moral law. This is the basic condition for moral action. Compliance with this moral law is not an obligation, but a duty.


Homework; It is an order that we voluntarily undertake to do and fulfill, and that we take responsibility for. This commandment is not a conditional imperative (hypothetical imperative) that conditions man from the outside. This command is an unconditional imperative (categorical imperative) in the sense of a command we place on ourselves. That is, the duty is given to man not by someone else, but by himself, by his own conscience. Man creates his own duty.


A conditional imperative (hypothetical imperative) is an imperative that tells what needs to be done to achieve a particular goal. This commandment, which is dependent on the desires and wishes of man, emerges by considering the possible consequences of the action.

An unconditional imperative (categorical imperative) is an imperative that is valid for all people, without any condition. This commandment, which is not dependent on human desires and wishes, emerges necessarily, without considering the possible consequences of the action.

The unconditional imperative is based on three principles:

Act in such a way that the underlying principle of behavior is the universal principle or law that applies to all people.
Treat humanity in a way that always sees humanity as an end, not a means, in yourself and in others!
Act in such a way that your will feels itself to be a legislator making rules that apply to all!

In other words, if an action is done with an interest or expectation, it is a conditional action and this action is not moral. However, an action is moral if it is done with a sense of duty, without any interest or expectation, with an unconditional command.


According to Kant, only conscientiously obeying this rule when the red light comes on while driving is a moral act. Because the red light was stopped entirely out of pure interest, only out of conscientious necessity. The reason why we stop at a red light is not to be punished, not to be caught on camera, to look nice to someone, etc. however, this act is an immoral act according to Kant; because the basis of behavior is interest.

A red light must be stopped out of conscientiousness.

For Kant, it is obvious that a moral action is put forward with a sense of duty, not just because a person has a tendency, feeling or interest. In other words, the criterion of moral action for duty ethics is the sense of duty. Therefore, according to Kant, the fact that I donate to a charity, for example, because I feel so much compassion for those in need, does not necessarily mean that I am taking a moral action.

If my action is based on a sense of compassion rather than a sense of duty, then it is not a moral action. Similarly, if I donate to a charity because I think it will increase my reputation among my friends, I am not doing any moral action, I am just trying to gain social status.

Therefore, for Kant, the justification for an action is much more important than the action itself and its consequences. According to him, in order to know whether someone has committed a moral action, it is necessary to know the intention of the person who performed the action. In this case, it is not enough to know whether the Compassionate Human is helping someone in need. This compassionate person may be performing his action for his own benefit, or he may be waiting for a reward after the hardships he has endured in order to carry out the action. Apart from these, he may have done this because he felt his conscience hurt; but this means that the rationale for action is feeling rather than a sense of duty.

Many other moral philosophers also agree with Kant that pure self-interest cannot be a justification for moral action. Many, however, object to the idea that the assessment of whether an action is a moral action is independent of whether one feels an emotion such as compassion, as Kant claims. Indeed, for Kant, the only acceptable justification for a moral action could be a sense of duty. One of the reasons why Kant focuses so much on the reasons for the action rather than the consequences of the action is that he