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John Locke

Kant, like Aristotle uses a maxim to bring out the importance and essence of ethics Kant. Given the above maxim made by Kant, it is easy to see that to him, the most important concept that used to appraise an action carried out by an individual as either good or bad, is the will. This is to say that to Kant, an action may be deemed bad, in extrinsic terms, but a careful look at the intrinsic underpinnings may justify the action that has been carried out.

John Locke

He performed his duties as a philosopher between August 29th, 1632 and October 28th, 1704. He did not only make contributions touching on political philosophy, but also made cogent contributions towards ethics as moral philosophy. As a matter of fact, Locke’s concept of ethics is considered in social sciences as the Father of Liberalism (Dunn) . According to Tully, Locke’s viewpoint on ethics is found on intergenerational obligation and stewardship. To Locke, the system of intergenerational ethics is based on five factors: the need to preserve human species; the need to prevent any possible destruction or wastage of creation; the need to treat the earth as opposed to owners the need to leave behind, what is enough and good for other people; and the need to respect and preserve every generation’s right to chart its own destiny by making its own political choices. This means that John Locke’s arguments on ethics are merely geared towards ensuring that there is intergenerational social justice and harmony (Tully) .

The preservation of the human species is the primary concern of Locke in ethics. To him, all ethical standards and fundamentals of all natural laws are ancillary to the need to act towards the realization of the preservation of species. Locke adheres closely to Biblical notion that the earth is given for mankind as a form of intergenerational commons and cites King David’s point that, “God gave the world to Adam and to his posterity in common.” To this effect, the chief obligation of mankind as the tenant is to maintain the property or an asset in as good state as it was, primordially. To Locke, therefore, as a tenant, every individual must be guided by the ethics that will safeguard the earth for both God and the tenant-generations that are to come.

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John Locke’s standpoint

To Kant, the most important aspect of ethics depends on the will. Given that at the time, Europe had already undergone the renaissance age, it would be important to judge an act in a manner that would encompass comprehensiveness. Given the complexity of issues that surrounded actions that would be judged as ethical, unethical, or even amoral, Kant therefore saw it important to factor acts that are carried out in duty. A soldier killing his opponent in the line of duty would not be condemned for having acted unethically, since he will be discharging his duties.

John Locke’s standpoint on ethics also illustrates the times and place that characterized his life. At that time, England and Europe were caught up in the adventure of carrying out the acquisition of wealth, and the extension of a nation’s political strength through investment and colonialism. It is against this backdrop that John Locke waxed poignant that for an act to pass as ethical, it must have factored the welfare of the rest of the humanity, the welfare of the environment and that of generations to come. Therefore, the amassing of wealth at the expense of future generations, environmental safety, and to the detriment of the masses would amount to an unethical act, according to Locke.

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