A maxim is a personal rule we follow to do the right thing. Following the rule of a moral law is something a rational human being does according to Kant. There are two types of rules the Hypothetical rule and the categorical rule. The hypothetical rule is if I do “this” then “this” will happen as a result. I will be focusing on the categorical rule though. That is a moral law that is universal; it commands us or obligates us to follow it absolutely with no exceptions. I will be discussing three examples were categorical rule comes into play and the different outcomes from different perspectives.
The first scenario is in the business world. It is commonly implied that in the business world, in order to get to the top you have to step over people to achieve that status. This situation has two different roles. These two roles are the person getting to the top and the role of the person getting stepped on. Kant would say that this isn’t morally right. In this case the person getting on top is practicing egoism. He is only thinking of himself and his or her personal gain. Kant disagrees with this because the person trying to get to the top is just using other people and tossing them to the side just after he is done using them for their utility. In terms of egoism, someone who is egotistical would agree with this because they just want to look out for themselves and in the end only worry about their own gain from the situation.
I myself agree with Kant in that this is morally wrong. People shouldn’t be treated by other people as “tools” for their personal gain. Egoism in this scenario may be the ethical choice depending on the situation. Let us say the situation is viewed in a different perspective. What if the person who is stepping on peoples back to get on the top is doing so because the company is in horrible conditions with the people who are in charge now are mistreating the employees? True, the man stepping on peoples back is doing the same but his intentions in the long haul are for the greater good. He intends to do better for the company and the employees once he reaches the top. In this case ethics would have to agree with the man who is stepping on peoples back because he is doing it for the greater good in the end.
My second example is when a person offers their seat to an elderly person. I believe Kant would agree with this because a person who offers their seat for an elderly person has good intentions and is doing something good for someone else and isn’t using them for a personal need. The theory of utilitarianism here applies when that person gives up their seat. It is for the greater good to all people. He or she is passing on the good act of offering a seat to an elderly person which in turn my result in more acts of the same kindness. It is for the greater good of elderly people and for those who give up their seats because they feel they did a good thing and fulfilled their obligation to follow the moral law. In this scenario however I believe Kant would agree because like he said “the will is conceived as a power of determining oneself to action in accordance with the idea of certain laws” which is explain when an individual follows ones own moral laws they are creating their will or “power” as Kant puts it. I myself agree with this because in that situation I would also offer my seat to an elderly person.
My final example is about video game consoles. I’m using this example to show not necessarily about the consoles themselves but the consumer of the item. When new consoles are released, for the first couple of months there are always issues that occur with the consoles and they tend to malfunction. After the couple of months the companies start to fix the glitches or any other problems they are experiencing. Do companies not have a moral obligation to deliver working merchandise to their consumer’s right from the start? I myself don’t agree with this because every time they release new consoles this issue always occurs.
The companies know there will or better yet there are problems with their merchandise and still decide to sell it to the public. Shouldn’t they have a moral obligation to fulfill their clients’ needs and deliver a working console not some prototype kind of console? In a different perspective or the utilitarianism perspective in this case they are focused on the consequences rather than the intentions. In the end they want to better their product by trying out their merchandise on the consumers first in order to get feedback with any issues so in the end they can have a better product for all the consumers not just the ones who want to buy it the first time they are released, but at what cost? Kant would argue that this is going against moral law. Those companies shouldn’t use the consumers who are eager to buy the consoles at first to test them out.
Then make them buy the product again once they have fixed whatever problems were wrong with it in the first place. People shouldn’t be used then tossed away once their utility is done to another person. One cannot be a rational person if one treats others irrationally. This situation might be the “ethical” choices due to the utilitarian perspective were the consequence is for the greater good. It can be justified because the end result will be better for everyone and even though a few people are disappointed at first eventually even they will get the benefit of the consequences instead of the disappointment of the intentions.