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Kant and Aristotle Theories of Ethics and Morality

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

1. Compare and contrast the concepts of determinism, compatibilism, and libertarianism, as outlined in Chapter 4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each of these positions? Which one do you believe is the most likely to be correct? Why?

2. Compare and contrast the ethical theories of Aristotle and Immanuel Kant as outlined in Chapter 9. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each of these positions? Which one do you believe is the most likely to be correct? Why?

3. Choose two perceptions of the "self" from Chapter 3 and compare them. Which one seems most plausible to you and why?

4. Compare the Buddhist Simile of the Chariot and Plato's Chariot Analogy. How are they same and how are they different?

Kant and Aristotle Theories of Ethics and Morality

A Comparison of Aristotle’s Theory of Ethics and Kant’s Theory of Ethics

Ethical Theories of Aristotle

Aristotle and other scientists of the old believed in the ethical theories being affected by the followings notions; happiness, virtue, and soul. For you to have a free soul, you needed attributes to treat people in the best way possible. However, besides that, a human being does not necessarily require good ethics to be good at everything that he is doing. For instance, an individual may be right in accounting, a good software developer, and someone with a sweet tongue that pulls customers to the business, but this same individual mistreats other people, is a cruel person, and does not talk appropriately to his acquaintances.

Aristotle was instrumental in proposing that for an individual to be happy and to have a stress-free life, he requires to be virtuous.

Aristotle says that the soul is one of the essential parts that a human being can have because it affects the decision making of the individual. To achieve excellence in the soul, someone has to achieve complete happiness. Aristotle also provides an emphasis that the character of the individual is the most critical component that can make such a person successful rather than his actions and the subsequent consequences of his actions. According to Aristotle, a person must be excellent in three cardinal virtues of justice, prudence, courage, having a sense of temperance and bravery. It is the bravery that will help someone to survive the hassles of life and the problems that come from it.

The Strengths of Aristotle's Ethical Theories

Character traits: It focuses on the further development of the characters of the individual. It encourages people to have respect towards other people and always to be ready to help others when they fall in trouble (Flowspy Psychology, 2020). These virtues act as a tool that acts as a prompt to the people to do good for other people. Doing well to other people creates the feel-good factor, and every individual benefit if we have more people compelled by their good characters do good things to different people.

This theory has a positive outlook on it. It states that more assertive people have compassion, expose kindness and are friendly towards other individuals can themselves leave behind the good habits they possess and in actuality become better people that are capable of leaving behind their old habits adopt new ones and become better and closer to achieving their dreams (Flowspy Psychology, 2020). These ethical theories recognize that people may be involved, and not everybody may understand the simple rules and regulations that help someone live moral lives.

One advantage is that it considers that an individual can be bettered not only in one aspect but also in totality. For instance, the needed development of the character traits of the person, the improvement of his emotions, and the working of his skills so that a person can become a better person. This theory gives an individual the right to choose the essential components needed for him to improve so that he can become morally upright (Flowspy Psychology, 2020).

Weaknesses of the Ethical Theories by Aristotle

This theory presents some weaknesses in that it lacks some focus on what is needed to be morally acceptable by the majority of the people and those things which most people should avoid.

Another disadvantage of this theory is that for individuals, it is tough to measure virtues. You cannot know the individual that has more attributes, and there exist no parameters to test a person who should improve his overall character traits.

Critics of this theory suggest that it promotes the concept of self-centeredness. A person will take a lot of time trying to justify how good he is and how morally upright he is without caring about the effects of his actions on other people. For instance, a person may be trying to be too good and performing morally acceptable duties but then his actions are negatively impacting on the people since he is making people to feel very inadequate about themselves and the situation could be worse if the person is judgmental and feels that for him to associate with other people, they must associate and be like him. When you become judgmental, instead of people emulating you for the actions that you have taken, you alienate them. They do not feel that you are part of them any longer.

Emmanuel Kant Theory of Ethics

Emmanuel Kant theory of ethics is focused on something that he called, the Categorical Imperative, where he argued that it is morally rational to be good and to do well. The Categorical Imperative is described as the goal of moral perfection that people must aspire to be (Stanford Enclopaedia of Philosophy, 2019). People should be willing to be morally upright and work towards having the attitude, the friendliness, care for others, and empathy, honesty and good relations with other people despite the problems people face on a day to day basis and despite the daily temptations and the inadequacies that people face (Stanford Enclopaedia of Philosophy, 2019) .

Advantages of this theory

It encourages duty and the need for the people to work hard so that they become good at everything they do and improve their body, mind and soul. He also shows that to be morally upright an individual does not have to follow any set code of conduct or rules. He says that morality does not relate to the rules and regulations set up by the individual but rather it comes from within (Stanford Enclopaedia of Philosophy, 2019). Everybody can decide to be morally upright or not if they so choose. Because of his theories, Kant, the intrinsic value and the power of the human beings to change his internal position is given total prominence.


There is a certain level of ambiguity that people experience when they decide to follow this theory. The reason is, it proposes the good things that must be done by all people i.e. the morally upright actions that people can uphold in their day to day lives but this theory is weak before it does not offer people the practical answer to specific actions that people should take to remain moral upright in lives’ difficult situations (Stanford Enclopaedia of Philosophy, 2019). Other people who are critical of this theory seek to justify their criticisms by saying that there is no honor in putting duty above everything else. There is also an importance in maintaining close personal relations, not being overly moral and also listening to the people.

From the above descriptions, the better and the more right theory is the one posed by Aristotle since it focuses on the character of the individual and it does not propose the approach of ethics as a moral obligation but rather it is something that an individual should do to better themselves.


Flowspy Psychology, 2. (2020). 11 Virtue Ethics Strengths and Weaknesses | Flow Psychology.

Retrieved 7 May 2020, from

Stanford Enclopaedia of Philosophy. (2019). Kant’s Moral Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia

of Philosophy). Retrieved 7 May 2020, from

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