Epicurus and Kant: a comparison of their ethical systems

Download
2010
Kutan, Ali Haydar
In this Study, the empiricist ethical system of Epicurus and idealist ethical system of Kant will be compared. Kant maintains that as Epicurus’ ethics regards morality as a means for the attainment of happiness, it is nothing but a self-love ethics. He, for this reason, calls Epicurean morality “selfishness.” According to Kant, the maxims of happiness can be known only through experience but he says, experience can never produce a law which is universal and necessary. He contends that as Epicurean ethics has happiness as its ultimate goal (i.e., the highest good), it cannot be able to produce an objective morality, valid for all rational beings. Kant, on the other hand, tries to found his ethical system on an a priori moral law of pure reason which borrows nothing from experience. This Study would, in a sense, be a defense of Epicurean ethical system against Kant’s claims. The main argument of the thesis is that Epicurean ethics is not a self-love ethics, but rather a system which propounds happiness for all. I will be arguing that for Epicurus, one’s own happiness is necessarily bound up with the happiness of others, and that his system is sound and consistent. I will also try to show that Kant is not successful in deducing a transcendentally ideal (a priori) law of reason and that his system has some inconsistencies.

Suggestions

Ethics Teaching in Higher Education for Principled Reasoning: A Gateway for Reconciling Scientific Practice with Ethical Deliberation
Akozer, Mehmet; Akozer, Emel (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2017-06-01)
This paper proposes laying the groundwork for principled moral reasoning as a seminal goal of ethics interventions in higher education, and on this basis, makes a case for educating future specialists and professionals with a foundation in philosophical ethics. Identification of such a seminal goal is warranted by (1) the progressive dissociation of scientific practice and ethical deliberation since the onset of a problematic relationship between science and ethics around the mid-19th century, and (2) the e...
On the Evolutionary Origin of Morality
Sakin Hanoğlu, Derya (2022-03-01)
In this study, I will approach morality from a naturalistic perspective and defend that morality is a product of evolutionary processes shared by both human and non-human animals rather than that of human culture. My naturalistic approach is based on simpler components instead of high-level cognitive capabilities such as cognition. Rationality, judgment, and free will are indeed presented as necessary for morality in classical definitions of morality. However, I will put forward that the roots of morality c...
The relation of freedom and evil in Kant’s moral philosophy
Aydın Bayram, Selma; Turan, Şeref Halil; Department of Philosophy (2006)
The purpose of this study is to examine concepts of freedom and evil, and to clarify their relation in terms of Kant’s moral philosophy. In this study, I firstly examine Kant’s understanding of freedom and the problems that this understanding leads to. I also discuss how the concept of freedom can be reconciled with the concept of evil expressed in the form of “propensity to evil”. Additionally, I attempt to show the significance of the notion of evil for Kant’s moral theory. Evil is one of the most critici...
Human nature, ethics and politics in the philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and Immanuel Kant
Yağanak, Eray; Turan, Şeref Halil; Department of Philosophy (2013)
The aim of this study is to make a comparison between Thomas Hobbes’ and Immanuel Kant’s theories of human nature, ethics and politics. This thesis defends the arguments of Kant’s republican political theory against the claims raised by Hobbes. In this thesis, I shall argue that Hobbes’ empiricist/mechanistic understanding of human nature cannot provide freedom of action for human beings within his ethical and political theory. In contrast to Hobbes, I shall defend the thesis that Kant’s understanding of hu...
An inquiry concerning the place of emotions in virtue ethics (a comparison between Aristotle and Kant
Yazıcı, Aslı; İnam, Ahmet; Department of Philosophy (2005)
This dissertation examines the claim that, unlike utilitarianism and deontology, virtue ethics ascribes a positive role to emotions in moral evaluation by taking them as the constituents of moral goodness and moral value. I wish to identify the limit and scope of this claim and to show what kind of emotion theory is suitable for explaining the essential features of virtue ethics. To do so, I defend some kind of cognitivism, the cognitive-affective theory of emotion, as the most suitable theory for virtue et...
Citation Formats
A. H. Kutan, “Epicurus and Kant: a comparison of their ethical systems,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2010.