24 Dec 2020
GS Paper 4
What does the following quotation mean to you in the present context? (150 words)
“Duty for duty's sake.” — Kant
- Elaborate the quote in your words.
- Explain the quote in the present context with suitable examples.
- Conclude suitably.
- According to Kant, moral value consists in disinterested performance of one’s duty whatever that duty may be. It is the doctrine of duty for duty’s sake. The idea here is that duty may be done for its intrinsic worth and not for ulterior gains.
- For Kant, the moral worth of human action depends on the motive from which it is done. It does not depend upon external consequences. If the intention is morally sound, then the action should not be condemned even if there are bad effects and consequences.
- For example, a surgeon is not to be blamed if the operation goes wrong due to unforeseen circumstances if her intentions were genuine.
- Kant contrasts the motive of duty with the motive of inclination (natural propensities, habitual desires such as the disposition for sympathy or the desire for pleasure) and the motive of self-interest (power, fame, profit etc). When an action is propelled by the latter, it has no moral value.
- Thus, applying Kantian ethics, one can see law, duty, and obligation as the very heart of morality. For a civil servant, for example, an untrammelled devotion to public service as the reason for a public career would be desirable.