Kant’s Ethical Thought

Wood, A., Kant's Ethical Thought. New York: Cambridge U. P., 1999.


“Because the Enlightenment still influences the course of things, Kant’s ethical thoughts is the (direct or indirect) source of much that is now standard in normative theories and ethics, political philosophy, and public policy. Many think of cots ethical theory (in John Rawls’s apt words) “not as a more relative of austere command but an ethic of mutual respect and self esteem.” Kantian ethics is grounded on the dignity of rational nature. It requires only respect for individual rights and the equal worth of human beings, but also the idea of a cosmopolitan community in which the ends of all rational beings must form a unity to be pursued collectively.

For the same reason, however, Kant’s ethical thoughts is also a focus of controversy, often an object of strong aversion. Many regard it as a metaphysical system of mindless rule following, grounded on an ineffable moral command. For them, to be a Kantian about any ethical issue is to be irrationally inflexible about its and irresponsibly heedless of the consequences of one’s own actions.”