“A good will is good not because of what it performs or effects, not by its aptness for the attainment of some proposed end, but simply by virtue of the volition; that is, it is good in itself, and considered by itself is to be esteemed much higher than all that can be brought about by it in favour of any inclination, nay even of the sum total of all inclinations. Even if it should happen that, owing to special disfavour of fortune, or the niggardly provision of a step-motherly nature, this will should wholly lack power to accomplish its purpose, if with its greatest efforts it should yet achieve nothing, and there should remain only the good will (not, to be sure, a mere wish, but the summoning of all means in our power), then, like a jewel, it would still shine by its own light, as a thing which has its whole value in itself. Its usefulness or fruitlessness can neither add nor take away anything from this value. It would be, as it were, only the setting to enable us to handle it the more conveniently in common commerce, or to attract to it the attention of those who are not yet connoisseurs, but not to recommend it to true connoisseurs, or to determine its value”
Kant, Emmanuel. “Metaphysic of Morals.” (1785). Translated by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott.
In my opinion, Kant is stating that it is important to have good will. I believe he is stating that we are not judged by what we do with our good will, the goodness inside of us, but just that we simply have it within in. If we have all of these virtuous qualities, for example courage, they can be used the wrong way if we do not have the motivation and goodness inside of us. If we use this courage in a productive manner, then we will be known for being good and for doing this courageous act. If we do not have or use our courage, then we will still be good and if will not affect the goodness within us. Virtuous qualities and acts can only embellish the good will that we may have- not having virtuous qualities or doing virtuous acts would not negate the goodness. It does not matter what we do with our good will, it just matters that we have it.
I agree with Kant in that good will is the basis of doing good things, both of which are extremely important. I liked this section because I believe we live in a world in which we are all trying to ‘one up’ the other person, someone we see as our opponent in this highly competitive society. We all look at what the other person accomplished- made a miracle drug for cancer, saved an elderly lady from getting hit by a car, advocating for the rights of the underprivileged- the list of good deeds can go on and on. However, one good deed can not trump another good deed- doing good is simply doing good. I think it is important to be a good person and try our best to do good deeds, no matter how big or small. For example, in my opinion, holding the door open for someone is just as much of a good deed as saving someone’s life. If we have good intentions, we can not measure how big our good intentions are to directly translate into how good we are as individual people. Being a good person just simple means that we have good will inside of us.
Hypothetical imperative is considered the action one takes in an effort to get to another point. The final result would be dependent on us making this decision, and that is why we make it. On the other hand, categorical imperative is the action we take because it is our moral obligation, it is morally the right this to do, and it always takes precedence over the hypothetical imperative.
I believe that every choice we have to make has to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. Not every decision we make is black and white, and there may be very extreme consequences if we make the wrong choice. I think a mature and reasonable individual would be more inclined to follow the hypothetical imperative because it isn’t always the immediate result we are concerned with, and sometimes, the end result would be more morally important than the immediate choice we would have made driven by the categorical imperative.
Kant spoke of dignity, intrinsic worth, and autonomy all as interrelated concepts of being a moral person. Dignity is respect- respecting oneself. Autonomy is the ability and right to choose what you value and the ability to make your own decisions. The individuals with all of these qualities- dignity, intrinsic worth and autonomy, will be the individuals to make the moral decisions. I agree with Kant in that it takes all of these qualities to be able to make moral decisions. A big concern of society these days is, “I wonder what other people would think”. If we don’t have autonomy, we can have dignity and intrinsic value, but we wouldn’t be able to act on them because we would be too concerned with what other people thought of us.
I do not feel like any of those criticisms are justified. What we feel, in terms of our emotions or love, are human nature and often times there is no room for justice and rationality in love. Whom we love is a part of us and makes us who we are, and there is no making sense or rationalizing it. Oftentimes if we want true happiness, we have to be true to ourselves and act on our emotions.
I chose the above picture because I believe that many people have good will, but are not always led in the proper direction by those who should have shown them the ‘way’. I believe that we are all human and oftentimes do make mistakes- but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have good will within us, which is the most important thing.