Kant's Universalizability Theory and the Search for a New Moral Order

Onyekwere, B.A (2011-09)

A Thesis Submitted to the School of Postgraduate Studies, University of Lagos


This thesis is a critical and analytical study of Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy. Kant’s moral philosophy is grounded on human pure reason and erected on the notion of duty, hence deontological. Kant is of the view that there is the moral law operating in man the reason why man must not shirk his moral responsibility. For Kant there is no room for moral anarchy and moral phobia for any rational being since human beings have moral nature. He concludes that man is condemned to be moral and that morality should be universalizable such that it applies to all with equal force. The thesis finds Kant’s moral arguments plausible and takes the position that Kant’s moral philosophy can be applied to man’s present environment. It notes that the moral problem of Kant’s time is similar to the contemporary moral problem. For example, presently, as it was in his time, morality has been corrupted and in some cases applied confusedly. The result is the prevalence of moral outlook such as moral nihilism, moral relativism, moral personalism, moral individualism, moral situationism, moral scepticism and amoralism. The implication of these approaches to morality is that society is always exposed to turbulence, disharmony, anarchy, instability and is steadily on the brink of precipice. There arises then the need for agreement on morality if man must remain in the face of the earth in peace and also continue to live in his only home, the earth. The thesis establishes the fact that man is in need of morality, is capable of moral actions and also benefits from being moral. The task before him is to rekindle his moral nature and accept the imperative of morality. This is a contract he entered into with himself and other rational beings with whom he forms the moral kingdom of ends. The thesis argues that humanity is in need of a new moral order. The new moral order will be founded on the stable of moral universalism wherein uniform moral norms will hold for all rational beings irrespective of circumstances of birth, race, status, creed, religion, and geographical location. There is one and only one moral community for every rational being. Also the circumstance one finds him or herself is not different from those of the others in similar condition. This calls for moral regeneration and ethical reorientation for every rational being. The thesis concludes that the much desired new moral order will be supported by moral training, moral education and a social system that is supportive of morality. This is to provide the needed atmosphere on which morality thrives and is sustained for the good of man and society.