To Cheat or Not to Cheat? - A Philosophical Decision Utilizing Kantian Reasoning

Essay by AngelusTVSUniversity, Bachelor'sA, January 2005

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Basically, this student's choice, if he copied his roommate's paper, would not be consistent with the Moral Law as understood by Immanuel Kant through his work, "Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals". Kant's concept of the moral law, is basically one philosophers attempt to rationalize and formulate a theory that would explain human actions and their causation when a person is faced with a decision. Kant infers that since we all make decisions, there must be a given, or a priori set of operations or rationale of reason we all follow in judging and making moral decisions. He is clear to point out that this line of reasoning may not apply to everyone, rather these formulae and conjectures are judgments that apply to any typical, or average human being. Having said all of that, in regard to the specific questions at hand, whether or not the philosophy student should copy his roommate's paper) we can apply Kant's fundamental and formulaic principle of morality in making our decision.

In this case, I believe we can expand our judgments of this individual's character even further than simply an average human being. Kant tells us that almost all humans obey the laws because they are motivated by the laws themselves. Laws are created in every society, for the most part, with the idea that the laws would protect and prevent its people from harm. So, utilizing this reasoning, in a functioning society it's safe to assume that most people within that society would agree with, and want to obey, the laws pertaining to their society. In our society, in America, the local and national government have created a set of laws, some are grand and revered such as the Constitution, and others may be as simple as a new stoplight at...