The process of making moral judgment is guided by rational principles, which are based on teachings of Jesus and Kant. According to Jesus, people should not judge others lest they be judged too. The principle is usually misinterpreted to mean that it is wrong to make any moral judgment. Jesus urged people to do to others the things they would want done for them too.
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Individuals who follow the principles of Jesus regard the rule as universal and golden in making moral judgments (Barry & Shaw, 2013). Jesus also summarized His principles of moral decision making by requiring people to love God with all their heart and love their neighbors as they loved themselves. According to the rules by Jesus, there is no need of fixing rules to guide moral judgments because when people are guided by love for each other they do the right things (Barry & Shaw, 2013).
According to Kant’s principle, people should act in ways that allow the maxim of their will comply with establishment of the universal law. However, the principle contradicts the rule by Jesus that people should not judge others. According to Jesus, people should only do to others the things that please them. Nevertheless, the two principles are compatible because they are governed by the practical reason of respecting God and humanity (Barry & Shaw, 2013).
Self-interest is another principle that guides moral behavior but people misunderstand self-interest to mean being selfish. It is possible for one to be governed by self-interest and be moral. The only challenge arises when individuals from different communities with different beliefs interact. Studies have shown that all human behaviors are guided by self-interest.
For example, when an individual donates blood it would be perceived as though the donor is selfless. The donor achieves self-interests of feeling good, relieve of guilt and self-esteem. Self-interest is absolute because no one can escape it in what he or she does as demonstrated in the aspect of donating blood.
Self-interest is relative in determining moral behaviors because people do things guided by their genetic make-ups and surrounding environment. The role of the environment depends on the interaction of children with their parents and culture (Barry & Shaw, 2013). For example, on the story of the Good Samaritan a person was beaten up by robbers and left at the roadside.
Among the three people who found him, two did not do anything to help the person but one who was the Good Samaritan behaved differently. Without judging, whether the Good Samaritan was right or wrong people may have different perception on his decision.
Depending on the genetic make-up and influence of environmental background, some people may argue that the Good Samaritan behaved compassionately while others may regard him as a bleeding heart. Some people may also perceive him as having a hidden agenda. Therefore, whether a person behaves morally or not is dependent on how he or she views the situation, which is self-interest (Barry & Shaw, 2013).
Altruism refers to when one does something to benefit others, which include assisting, consoling, sharing resources and practicing teamwork. When a person acts altruistically, he or she does not expect external rewards. However, altruism motivates other people to behave in a way that improves the welfare of other people. Therefore, a person who behaves altruistically cannot be regarded as immoral (Barry & Shaw, 2013).
Barry, V. & Shaw, W. (2013). Moral issues in business (12th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.