I’ll admit it, I kinda love me some Kant… there, I said it.
The thing is, what I really like about Kant is the value he places on several important things:
- The autonomy of the individual human being.
- The inherent worth of an individual human being.
- Human dignity, in general.
- Reason as a means of determining right and wrong.
While I do think he’s too absolute about things — and I suppose he could afford to be so, since he never married and had kids (spouses will teach you to compromise like nothing else, IMHO), I think the general idea of determining morality by examining the motive behind the action, is quite sound.
Now, go read the Categorical Imperative(s) (he says there is one, but there are several formulations of it..).
The key to all of the formulations is that the individual taking the action must use the CI as a test of their proposed actions. They may not do anything that fails the CI test, and if multiple alternatives pass it, then they can use whatever they want to make the final decision as to what to do.